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The Open Vision. A study of psychic phenom- 
ena. The purpose of this book is to distin- 
guish psychical phenomena from other kinds 
of experience, and to point out the way be- 
yond mere phenomena to clear knowledge of 
the human spirit and the spiritual life. 

A History of the New Thought Movement. 
An important study of the mental healing 
movement, by an authoritative writer who 
knows his subject from the heart of it. It is 
the first complete history of the subject, and 
of its leaders and healers. The account it 
gives of the more permanent, constructive 
ideas embodied in this system of applied 
metaphysical practice must make it helpful 
to those seeking practical answers from it to 
their own personal life problems. 

The Spirit of the New Thought. "Dr. Dres- 
ser, dean of New Thought, herein does a serv- 
ice for the much-taxed general reader, who is 
enabled by means of this collection of repre- 
sentative papers to get his bearings and to 
discriminate New Thought from Christian 
Science and other allied 'movements/ " — Se- 
wanee Review. 






Author of "The Power of Silence," "On the 

Threshold of the Spiritual World," "A 

History of the New Thought 

Movement," etc. 








m i9 i^ u 




Interest in psychical phenomena has travelled 
very far since the days of the first crude mani- 
festations which led to modern spiritism. The 
era of mere manifestations gave place to that 
of books purporting to tell us about the spirit- 
world and the wisdom of life on the other plane, 
and that in turn led to the day of psychical re- 
search with its long and patient investigations. 
The great war brought us to another period. 
There was not only greater desire than ever to 
gain new light if possible on the nature of death 
and the life beyond, but from the soldiers them- 
selves on the battlefield there came evidences of 
psychical visions and guidances. To meet the 
new interest, books of many types have been is- 
sued, so that psychical experience has become one 
of the great subjects of the day in the world of 
books. So many messages and teachings have 
apparently come over the great border that none 
of us has time to read them all. What next? 

If we assume that the whole subject has passed 
out of its preliminary stage and that we have 
assured results at last, what use can we make 
of these results? Granting the survival of iden- 
tity, accepting spirit-return as established and 

iv Foreword 

spiritual communion as a fact of real experience, 
what significance has all this for the individual, 
for those who may not themselves have indulged 
in direct experiments or had personal evidences 
of spirit-return? Has a body of principles been 
given us such that we may now adopt them and 
endeavor to live by them, or are the various teach- 
ings in such conflict that few of us can tell what to 
believe? Should a person have faith in communi- 
cations from the other world, is the believing atti- 
tude right, or ought we to continue sceptical? 

It would be claiming too much to undertake 
to decide any of these matters for the general 
public. But plainly we need to take the next 
step, and those of us who have in a measure seen 
our way through to conclusions and convictions 
should help others still in a questioning attitude. 
We may not be able to persuade any one to adopt 
our view, yet we may greatly assist the investi- 
gator and those who are heart -hungry by telling 
how we came to believe in the reality of certain 
psychical experiences while rejecting others. In- 
deed we may hold that our own experiences were 
given us that we might share their meanings and 
values with those whose interests are similar. 
And even if we should reject all mere phenomena 
as doubtful there would still be the question of 
the proper development of our own powers, 
sometimes called "psychical." 


It is in this tentative yet on the whole hopeful 
spirit that this book has been written. The point 
of view advocated departs somewhat widely from 
that of psychical research on the one hand, and 
that of the average believer in messages from the 
spirit-world on the other. Personal experience 
and study have led me to believe in many matters 
as perfectly normal and the information acquired 
wholly natural, in contrast with the point of view 
which tells us so much about the abnormal and 
the supernormal. I have never been an investi- 
gator in the usual sense, have not consulted me- 
diums, have stood apart when others sought to 
arouse my interest, and have for the most part 
concerned myself with other matters. My train- 
ing has been in philosophy and I have applied 
the sceptical tests of the student who is deter- 
mined not to be misled. All the more significant, 
it seems to me, are the results to which experience 
has led me. For granting that there is at the 
present time unusual openness to the life beyond 
and concerted effort on the other side to bring 
certain teachings to us on this plane, one should 
be far more impressed by what has come spon- 
taneously than by any quest on our own part. 
There ought to be a way to show us what is real 
and a means of making clear what is true. 

The point of view of this book is that when all 
the evidence that can be gained through investi- 

vi Foreword 

gation or reading has come before the mind of 
today, it still remains for the individual to learn 
what is real and what is true for him. We are 
not likely to be genuinely convinced one way 
or the other until we too have had evidence. 
Strictly speaking, nothing is proved until it has 
been directly established for you and for me. 
We must either have experience or come into 
possession of principles such that we can tell 
what is true, what false. If we could be so for- 
tunate as to follow direct guidance all the way 
along we might be spared the long process of 

For there surely is divine wisdom in the mat- 
ter. Each of us is led along a certain pathway 
and there is guidance for the path. If the time 
has come for penetrating more deeply into psy- 
chical reality, there is a sure way to find that 
reality. The eager quest of hundreds and thou- 
sands whose loved ones have left this world dur- 
ing the war has apparently made it possible to 
break down many barriers. Unexpectedly the 
intense experience of life at the front has led to 
the opening of the inner vision on the part of 
soldiers. Some of these have gone from our 
midst and they seem to be looking back. We on 
our part have been led to be more responsive. 
We have only to follow these leadings to the end 
in order to come in sight of clear principles. 

Foreword vii 

Meanwhile there is every reason why you and I 
should grow into the open vision, should long 
without undue yearning, and listen without giv- 
ing ear too intently. 

The point of view of this book is neither ortho- 
dox nor scientific, as these terms are usually un- 
derstood. It is simply human. Those of us 
who have been with people who are yearning and 
with soldiers over seas have grown quite natu- 
rally into this attitude. We had a splendid 
chance "over there" to know and more intimately 
to appreciate human nature in many of its most 
genuinely attractive phases. There one came 
nearer the hearts and minds of men in whom the 
childhood of the world was in considerable degree 
preserved unspoiled. One seemed to realize 
from such relationships with the frank-hearted 
men of the trenches what life might have been 
on this earth if civilization could have kept the 
first-hand realities of the human spirit. One saw 
what Bergson meant when he graphically de- 
scribed the nature and function of the intellect, 
and then told us that creative evolution might 
have proceeded differently, might have fostered 
intuition. This vision of man's spiritual possi- 
bilities gave one a desire to re-interpret life, to 
go back in thought to the childhood of the race, 
to recover the lost gifts and possessions of the 
inner life. 

viii Foreword 

In our life at the front many of us found that 
the traditions which hamper and the creeds which 
keep men apart were set aside. One associated 
with the Roman Catholic on the same friendly- 
terms as with Protestant or Jew. One saw that 
the simple-minded peasant had kept untainted 
some of the beliefs and values of Christianity 
which modern criticism has refined away into 
"pale negations." One asked if it were not pos- 
sible to look back of the Protestant Reformation, 
back of all the churches, and in a way back of 
the Bible itself, to see how men first came to 
believe in the soul, in heaven, in a higher wisdom. 
The undertaking would be difficult, for each of 
us comes forward with a word of warning in 
behalf of some out-worn creed. A dispassionate 
study of human nature from the point of view of 
inner spiritual experience is indeed difficult. 
Yet this book has been written with the hope 
that just such studies are possible, that many of 
us care so little for organizations, or for any- 
thing that doctrinaires may say or scientific critics 
may invent, that there is reason to press forward 
to learn for ourselves what is true, what is real. 

While then many of us returned from the 
other war-countries unsettled, unable to take up 
our occupations in the same old way, we bore 
within our spirits something very definite and 
promising. There actually is a new dispensation 

Foreword ix 

in process. The war was part of it. The pres- 
ent class struggle is another. The interest in 
psychical phenomena is a third. The remarkable 
unity attained by the Allies during 1918 was a 
forerunner of the spirit of cooperation that is to 
come. We have a right to believe that there is 
such cooperation between the other life and this 
as the world has never seen before. Those of 
us who are ready can play a part. By so doing 
we shall put ourselves in line with the constructive 
forces. By so doing we may pass far beyond 
the stage of mere questioning and mere investi- 
gation into that of actual assimilation and actual 
use. And why on the whole should we not be 
free to acquire a philosophy of the relationship 
of the two worlds? Why not take seriously the 
teaching that man is a spirit already in the spirit- 
ual world in his inmost nature, while at the same 
time active in this world's affairs? Why should 
we forever make concessions to materialism and 
to orthodoxy? Why not be free spirits in quest 
of truth? 

This book is addressed at any rate to those 
who are eager for personal evidences because 
they have lost friends during the war, and to 
those who are free to follow wherever the spirit 
of truth may lead in these days of unrest. Its 
point of view is unclassified. Its teaching is 
eclectic, not in any sense sectarian. It appeals 


to the reader to think and believe for himself, 
and to cultivate his own powers. This seems 
like individualism, but it is the call of the new 
age. It seems like undue emphasis on the inner 
life, but we have been putting the wrong stress 
on outward things. Well may we conclude to 
press through to the deeper meanings of the new 
dispensation, the age of the recovery of the open 
vision and the realities which it discloses. 



I The New Awakening . .... 1 

II Psychical Experience 13 

III Psychical Research . . 28 

IV Methods of Communication 42 

V The Awakening of Psychical Power . . 58 

VI Spiritual Speech 75 

VII Recent Literature 91 

VIII The Seven Purposes 109 

IX Principles of Interpretation . . . .123 

X The Human Spirit 137 

XI Difficulties and Objections . . . .155 

XII Personal Experiences 171 

XIII Direct Impressions 189 

XIV Inner Perception 207 

XV How to Know Inner Guidance .... 223 

XVI A Doctrinal Objection ...... 239 

XVII To a Mother ......... 255 

XVIII The Future Life, I ......... . 266 

XIX The Future Life, II 280 

XX The Book of Life ....... 294 

XXI The Inward Light . . . . . . .311 

XXII Positive Values 325 



One of the most popular and interesting chap- 
ters in the Bible contains the significant state- 
ment that " the word of the Lord was precious 
in those days," and then it gives as the reason 
the fact that " there was no open vision." The 
young Samuel, whose spiritual history follows, 
was unacquainted at that time with the inner 
voice or vision. When he heard the inner voice 
he mistook it for that of Eli. Being obedient 
and not by any means troubled with modern dif- 
ficulties over auditory illusions, he called out 
" Here am I." Apparently he not only heard 
the voice but experienced some sort of vision 
which he was presently persuaded to describe. 
Others knew the conditions of seership under 
which a prophet arises, and Samuel was encour- 
aged to give expression to his experience. The 
experience was no doubt genuine, however it may 
have been interpreted in accordance with tradi- 


The Open Vision 

The more enlightened at least knew the dif- 
ference between one who spoke from first-hand 
contact with spiritual realities through experi- 
ence, and one who merely repeated the beliefs 
of the fathers with priestly emphasis. Plainly 
the word of the Lord was just then largely a 
tradition so far as immediate vision was con- 
cerned, but a tradition which looked back to that 
golden time when the inner eyes of men were still 
open. Doctrine was needed to take the place of 
direct experience and enable the priests to go 
through the motions; hence doctrine was highly 
esteemed. But then as now doctrine was a make- 
shift. The written word was needed for the 
same reason. Yet though precious it was a sub- 
stitute. The open vision could never have come 
to occupy so great a place in regretful memories 
of a bygone time had it not been a genuine 
reality, a gift of surpassing value. The great- 
est men of the spirit were doubtless those who 
heard the inner word, although there may have 
been little appreciation of the values of that word. 
Far more important than any effort to secure 
a hearing for doctrine would have been the ques- 
tion, What is the open vision and why was it 
ever lost? 

The tradition still prevails in some quarters 
that man was so created as to be able while liv- 
ing on earth to speak with angels and spirits, 

The New Awakening 3 

to enjoy the open vision and behold what is real 
in the spiritual world. The same tradition tells 
us that in time men became so immersed in 
worldly interests as to care for little else, hence 
that the way was closed. This was not the " fall 
of man " as commonly understood, but the natu- 
ral coming in of interests from the outside and 
the no less natural fading away of the inner 
vision. With those who hold that man is in 
reality a spirit, always in intimate relation with 
the spiritual world whatever his absorption in 
the things of the flesh and the world, this idea 
of a golden time in the childhood of the race is 
far more than a tradition. Indeed, the sure con- 
viction follows that whenever worldly interests 
sufficiently recede and man regains interior re- 
ceptivity the way to the open vision is once more 
disclosed. There are signs that we have entered 
such a period in our day. 

The spiritual history of the race leads us to 
believe that there must indeed have been some- 
thing like this directness of speech and this open- 
ness, otherwise there would never have been the 
great periods of awakening and iUumination. 
The sacred books of India, Palestine and other 
lands must have had sufficient causes. They 
cannot be explained on the mere supposition that 
doctrines were handed down from the myth- 
making period and formulated by those in power 

4 The Open Vision 

who wished to give them priestly authority. 
There have always been periods of relative quies- 
cence and times of re-awakening. Naturally 
enough the priests and their devotees have given 
their attention chiefly to doctrines and traditions 
rather than to the realities of inner experience 
which led to these. But this need not blind us 
to the fact that there have been seers and prophets 
who enjoyed the open vision. Had it not been 
for these and the protests they uttered against 
doctrine and priestly authority the world would 
be much further from spiritual reality than it 
is. True psychology teaches us that experience 
precedes belief, formulas, rituals, dogma. There 
has always been a good reason why men wor- 
shiped and believed and prayed. No mere ex- 
planation urged from without can take the place 
of spiritual interpretation and appreciation from 

To give thought to the vision and its possibili- 
ties, in contrast with the periods when the word 
of the Lord was precious and there was only tra- 
dition concerning the open vision, is to realize 
that there is an important chapter in human his- 
tory from the dawn of civilization up to the great 
war which we have scarcely read. The Bible, 
for example, is full of references to direct speech 
with angels. The messages and the guiding 
presences of angels seem to have played a regular 

The New Awakening 

part in the inner history, and were apparently so 
regarded and taken as matters of course. 
Prophetic dreams were given on momentous oc- 
casions. There were visions that disclosed the 
way. One might readily infer that all divine 
guidance or revelation came through mediation 
to man, and that there were several ways in which 
the text of the scriptures was given. To take 
the Bible with entire seriousness is to have these 
facts on our hands for explanation. But the 
same is true concerning the sacred books of other 

As a result of modern criticism it has become 
customary to pass by this inner chapter. We 
now relegate angels to the sphere of myths, hav- 
ing ceased to believe in unique beings with wings 
who never lived on any earth. Or we sceptically 
reason them away as mere " good thoughts." 
Sometimes too we appear to have classified them 
once for all among the wonders or mysteries of 
the past along with the " miracles " which were 
purely things of the past — until the modern 
interest in spiritual healing taught us that the 
theologians were mistaken. We have for the 
most part preferred to evade the matter rather 
than think it out. The Church too has frowned 
upon searching inquiry. 

When we read the Bible as a whole and try 
to account for it as a whole, we must admit that 

6 The Open Vision 

in the actual text angels play a significant part. 
The great idea throughout is the guiding pres- 
ence of God. The central questions pertain to 
the wisdom which the book contains, hence to 
the idea of " revelation.' ' Yet when we open our 
eyes to everything mentioned which is said to 
operate in connection with the divine presence, 
we find that from Genesis to the book of Reve- 
lation either the instrumentality of angels or the 
open vision on the part of men possessing seer- 
ship is strongly emphasized. We can no more 
neglect these means of communication or expres- 
sion if we would be loyal to the whole story than 
we can fail to consider the imagery or symbolism 
native to the Hebrew mind in which the great 
spiritual truths are clothed. When we read that 
" there was no open vision " at a certain period 
the reference is to a real spiritual condition. 
When Balaam the son of Beor is spoken of as 
" the man whose eyes are open " there is refer- 
ence to a real fact concerning spiritual vision. 
When Elisha prays that the eyes of the young 
man may be " open " an actual kind of interior 
vision is in his mind. And by implication these 
and other passages give us a more direct clue 
to the interpretation of psychical phenomena than 
the manifestations of modern spiritism. For the 
decisive consideration is not the alleged projec- 
tion or materialization of spiritual realities, but 

The New Awakening 

the open vision by which those possessing it actu- 
ally see these realities. So to be caught up into 
the seventh heaven with Paul the Apostle, or to 
be " in the spirit on the Lord's day " with John 
the seer whose visions recounted in the Revelation 
have so long baffled the world, would be to exer- 
cise an actual power, to be quickened to see and 
to feel with him. This subject may be consid- 
ered apart from all topics usually involving doc- 
trinal controversies. 

It is difficult indeed to put aside the influences 
of modern scepticism concerning angels and the 
spiritual powers of man, and try in reconstructive 
imagination to put ourselves back into the life 
and times of those who enjoyed the open vision. 
The very idea of a golden age when men walked 
and talked with heavenly beings, when men re- 
ceived truth by interior revelation, has been dis- 
carded as a myth. The philosophy of evolution 
has persuaded the modern mind that everything 
golden is yet to come. It tells us nothing about 
a period of spiritual innocence and open-minded- 
ness. Then too modern psychological criticism 
has refined away nearly everything of a psy- 
chical nature, and we seem in duty bound to ex- 
plain even the spiritual life on the basis of the 
bodily states which accompany it. We have 
been put into an attitude of cold scrutiny. Psy- 
chology is so interested in the study of physical 

8 The Open Vision 

sensation that it never gets around to the subject 
of intuition. We have been taught to classify as 
"abnormal" many of the best experiences in 
human life. We have put down our highest 
wisdom as "supernormal." The normal is thus 
reduced to the dead-level of experiences involv- 
ing seven or eight physical senses. It therefore 
never occurs to us that it might once have been 
usual to enjoy the open vision of spiritual reali- 
ties, and that it might now be natural and right 
to converse with angels and spirits. 

Yet, as in the case of the little Samuel, we have 
little children ever with us and we might discern 
evidences of normal spiritual powers disclosing 
higher realities. We might learn from a more 
intimate study of their minds that in sensitive 
children especially there is a side to their nature 
properly definable as psychical. We might begin 
at last to see why it is that children at the point 
of death have described things seen in the spirit- 
ual world. We have only to follow the inner 
history of children round about us, from their 
early years through the period of the higher edu- 
cation and of contact with the world, when they 
begin to yield more fully to the world's entice- 
ments, in order to see the period of openness 
gradually giving place to a state in which the 
external life becomes largely triumphant. What 
still takes place all around us undoubtedly took 

The New Awakening 9 

place under other external conditions in the child- 
hood of the race. In each of us there are vestiges 
of this period in our childhood, vestiges which 
might be recovered. Life in a sense is a constant 
struggle to return to this the inmost part of our 
nature, in contrast with the effort of the external 
life to keep us absorbed in the things of the 
world. Nearly every one succumbs either to the 
enticements and demands of outward things or 
to some creed which denies the possibility of di- 
rect spiritual experience. But we have all 
known at least a few individuals who have kept 
unspoiled some of the qualities of this golden age 
of their youth. 

There are signs that we have recently entered 
one of the great periods when men enjoy the open 
vision. We might deny every one of the mani- 
festations of modern spiritism and yet have as 
many reasons for this statement. Psychical re- 
search, using the same persistent methods of anal- 
ysis and criticism by which the triumphs of mod- 
ern science have been won, has cleared the way 
for such a belief. But the great war accom- 
plished far more at a leap than research could 
have gained in a generation. There have been 
too many visions of real value to deny them all. 
Too many messages purporting to come from 
soldiers who have "gone West" have stirred us 
into belief. Too many of us are spiritually hun- 

10 The Open Vision 

gry with a hunger that has been quickened from 
within. We cannot return to the old scepticism. 
Everywhere there is eagerness for new light on 
death and the life beyond. Never in history have 
so many people received communications seem- 
ing to come from the spiritual world. Never 
before have such numbers of people come to be- 
lieve in the reality of communion with the so- 
called dead. All these are signs of greater ac- 
tivity in the spiritual world itself, of more effort 
to get messages across. We may be exceedingly 
doubtful about the mere phenomena of psychical 
experiences, but we cannot deny these spiritual 

It is plainly not a time when a few seers or 
prophets may be expected to stand out above 
their f ellowmen because of superiority in the open 
vision. As in all other fields of human endeavor, 
the powers of the individual at large are under 
consideration. It is a time of diffusion of every 
sort of knowledge. There are no evidences that 
we are ever to return to the leadership of a few 
men of genius or to membership in a few or- 
ganizations supposably having a monopoly of 
spiritual knowledge. It is no longer a question 
of authority but of truth. Every one who is 
interiorly guided and quickened is free to follow 
where the inner light may lead, to do his part in 
recovering the golden age. What is needed is 

The New Awakening 11 

not a creed but enlightenment, not theology but 
a universal philosophy of the interior life verifi- 
able by inner experience. 

Moreover, new books aje coming from the 
press thick and fast in response to this new eager- 
ness for light. The subject of psychical phenom- 
ena has become one of the great literary topics 
of the day. Books abound no doubt which con- 
tain scant evidences of spiritual truth or spiritual 
reality. The greater the number of books the 
more need for searching scrutiny. But the sig- 
nificant thing is that they are being written and 
being read. One can no longer classify all books 
on spiritism or psychical phenomena under two 
or three heads. They vary all the way from 
crude attempts to describe the spiritual world 
to reasonable expositions of principles which are 
worthy of our most serious consideration. 
Prophecies abound and most of them are obvi- 
ously wide of the mark, but there have been some 
remarkable prognostications of the war. 

The most impressive advance, no doubt, in 
comparison with books purporting to contain 
messages from the great beyond of a generation 
or so ago, is in what some one has called " team- 
work " as applied to spiritual things. Groups of 
enlightened spirits in the world beyond are ap- 
parently seeking communication with those most 
open on our plane. It is no longer a mere ques- 

12 The Open Vision 

tion of proving spirit-return or establishing the 
work of psychical interchange on a scientific basis. 
Concerted effort is now being made to bring to 
us the teachings we most need for immediate 
application in this practical world. The ques- 
tion of the means of communication, for example, 
through mediumship or the pencil, has become 
wholly secondary. The fact that so many people 
are trying the ouija-board and the pencil is also 
secondary. There is something in store for us 
very much higher and better than these things. 
The time will come when we will no longer seek 
mere outward signs or agencies, but will look 
for direct evidences and interior impressions. 
This will lead to widespread interest in the open 
vision and the opening of the interior sight of 
numbers of people. The psychical awakening is 
incidental to the spiritual re-awakening. This is 
truly a new dispensation that is upon us. 



The word "psychic" is on every lip today* 
Yet there are many who have no clear idea of the 
nature of the psychical realm in relation to the 
spiritual and physical. The word seems to cover 
the whole range from credulity to science. There 
is a tendency to confuse external phenomena with 
inner experience. It is well to draw certain dis- 
tinctions that we may mark out the field of inner 
experience in general and within that field dis- 
tinguish what is psychical. 

In the larger sense the psychical is the whole 
sphere of mental life in contrast with the physi- 
cal. In psychology a psychical fact is whatever 
is directly experienced by the mind in contrast 
with what science tells us by way of explanation 
of what we feel and otherwise perceive. Thus 
the fact of pleasure or pain is psychical, while 
the science that describes it and supplies what 
is lacking to make our" knowledge complete is 
psychology. But this usage is too general. 

In popular thought a psychical experience is 
mysterious or questionable. A person known as 
a "psychic" or "sensitive" is one supposed to 


14 The Open Vision 

■ — — - i 

possess uncanny or supernormal power, such as 
clairvoyance, "second sight" the ability to read 
another's mind, or to fall into a trance. There 
is a tendency to classify all phenomena bordering 
upon spiritism as occult or abnormal. But this 
may be chiefly because we have tended to push 
these matters aside instead of marching straight 
up to them. We shall make headway if we now 
undertake to describe and explain them in the 
light of reason. 

There are phenomena indeed which we may 
always regard as abnormal. Thus the mesmeric 
or hypnotic sleep although psychical is an ex- 
perience against which we rebel in behalf of sound 
individuality and the cultivation of the intellect 
and the will. We object also to mediumship and 
disapprove of trances. Yet back of all this that 
is unsound lies the fact that many of us are to 
a greater or lesser degree sensitive, susceptible 
to impressions, mental atmospheres and guid- 
ances which seem to bring us higher wisdom. 
What we protest against is undue use of this the 
sensitive side of our nature. There undoubtedly 
is a perfectly normal use of our psychical powers. 

We may perhaps define more carefully what 
we mean by psychical experience if we compare 
the psychical with other phases of our life. 
When we speak of worship, prayer, pious ser- 
vice in almsgiving, ministering to the sick, the 

Psychical Experience 15 

widowed and fatherless, we have in mind a dis- 
tinct part of our individual and social existence, 
namely our religious life. In the best sense of 
the term "Christian" we mean by religion not 
only outward observances but personal piety, the 
response of the heart, a life according to the creed 
we profess in putting love for God and man above 
self-love. The word "psychic" does not enter 
in unless we associate with our piety something 
pertaining to the interior channels through which 
the experiences of the heart are said to come, un- 
less we refer to other matters than direct com- 
munion with God or conversation through 
spoken words with men. 

When we consider mysticism as a special phase 
of this life of the heart, however, we realize 
that the psychical always enters in. For the 
typical mystic is one who emphasizes inner ex- 
perience as the primary means of knowing spir- 
itual reality. The mystic may not hear voices 
or indulge in any activities in connection with 
spiritism, yet he surely has visions, he possesses 
psychical sensitivity to an unusual degree, and is 
likely to experience the ecstasy or uplift which 
leads mystics to believe they have direct com- 
munion with God. We fail to understand the 
mystic unless we take his psychical experiences 
into account. The mystic is in part a seer. He 
enjoys the open vision in some degree. His in- 

16 The Open Vision 

ner life might be studied as a clue to the reality 
of psychical experience, apart from any partic- 
ular belief such as spiritual pantheism which 
springs from his visions. 

We might say that psychical experience is a 
phase of the whole spiritual life. But when- 
ever you speak of the spiritual life nowadays you 
must explain what you mean, for you might 
mean spiritism or you might be utterly opposed 
to it. A person might be a psychic or sensitive 
and not by any means "spiritual" as most of us 
understand the term. We would all like to be 
sanely spiritual and grow in insight. We think 
of the spiritual in the best religious sense as im- 
plying a divine standard. The clue to the in- 
terpretation of the psychical must be spiritual, 
we insist. 

The term "psychic" has been applied to the 
whole range of phenomena inclusive of material- 
izations, raps, automatic writing, table-tipping, 
planchette-writing, the ouija-board, clairvoy- 
ance, clairaudience, telepathy, psychometry, 
visions, apparitions, and the like. But we must 
distinguish between psychical or inner experience 
and external events, things or methods of ac- 
tivity connected with such experience. A rap 
is a physical happening if objectively actual at 
all. If nothing physical occurs, it is merely an 
auditory illusion. So the tipping of a table is a 

Psychical Experience 17 

physical occurrence. An experiment with a 
ouija-board is psychical only so far as the evi- 
dence compels us to look beyond unconscious 
muscular action or automatism for an explana- 
tion. The motions of a pencil held receptively 
in the hand may be purely automatic and may 
have no inner or psychical accompaniment what- 
ever. What is psychical in connection with any 
of these phenomena when visible things are used 
is the inner experience of receiving impressions 
or the unwitting response to the activities of one's 
own subconsciousness. The inner impressions 
or responses are the psychical parts of the phe- 
nomena. This is probably always somewhat 
complex when, for example, the recipient con- 
tributes the requisite sensitivity and willingness 
to participate in the experience, in so far as the 
external memory is drawn upon, also the lan- 
guage that chances to be in one's mind as a whole, 
conscious and subconscious. If we could in all 
cases dispense with the external means, such as 
the use of a pencil or a board, what would be left 
would be the series of impressions with the feel- 
ings or words conveyed by means of these through 
the external memory. 

We must distinguish between the inner or 
psychical reality and its associates or appear- 
ances, that is, the mere phenomena. There may 
be both outward associates, such as a tipping- 

18 The Open Vision 

table or a moving pencil; and inward associates 
subject to misinterpretation or illusion. Thus 
an inner voice might seem to be heard outside 
when no sound is produced, yet the inner voice 
might be profoundly real. Thus a spiritual 
vision might have mystical associates round about 
a very genuine religious experience. Interpre- 
tations may vary and the names attached to an 
experience may be different, just as a vision be- 
held on a battle-field is variously interpreted and 
named by soldiers of various nationalities or 
faiths. An acute psychology would tell us what 
element in each case is inwardly real and this 
inner reality would be psychical. 

The question of the abnormal elements of in- 
ner experience pertains to the given individual 
and is another problem, referring to the state of 
a person's health, for example, the presence or 
absence of a high degree of intellect offsetting 
or fostering the emotions. Psychical experience 
may be said to give us "supernormal' ' informa- 
tion, that is, information over and above that of 
our physical senses, but only because we know 
so little about the total environment of the 
human spirit. We may come to see that every 
normal individual regularly receives information 
or guidance wrongly classified as supernormal. 
It is wholly normal to be a spiritual being. It 
is perfectly normal to live in the spiritual world 

Psychical Experience 19 

and in the natural world at the same time. It is 
entirely normal and desirable to receive guid- 
ances from the spiritual world. It is in every 
way desirable to acquire wisdom from the other 
world by which to live in this — if it come accord- 
ing to divine order. The essential is knowledge, 
insight, intelligence in the use of wisdom from a 
truly superior source. 

We may illustrate by telepathy or thought- 
transference. By this is meant direct commu- 
nication between one mind and another other- 
wise than through the organs of speech or other 
physical means. It may involve the mere action 
of one mind on another or may also include de- 
finite words. Sometimes there is spontaneous 
transference, that is, without pre-arrangement 
or a direct act of will. Again, there is experi- 
mental transference under precise conditions as 
to time and receptivity. But the term has also 
been extended to include subconscious acquisi- 
tion of memories from the minds of others present 
or absent. Thus a psychically inclined person 
may unwittingly read from another's mind 
thoughts which purport to come from spirits. 
A medium may draw on the minds of people 
present without intending to do so. Our minds 
may contribute subject matter without our con- 
sent. The tendency at present is to push this 
explanation as far as possible and to refrain from 

20 The Open Vision 

belief in the reality of a spirit-message if one can. 
However that may be, we note that telepathic 
experience implies psychical power. None of us 
knows to what extent we may give and receive 
similar thoughts. 

According to theosophy, telepathy includes the 
projection of "thought-forms" from one person 
to another. This projection involves the idea 
of etheric substance or force vibrating between 
human beings, as in wireless telegraphy. What- 
ever the interpretation put upon the experience, 
we ought properly to say that it is not thought 
that is transmitted but rhythm or vibration arous- 
ing an equivalent or corresponding thought, as 
we shall see more clearly in another chapter. 
What is implied on the part of the sender is 
power to direct the mind towards another at a 
distance. What is implied on the recipient's 
part is a psychical sensitive-plate capable of re- 
ceiving rhythms or vibrations which set up equiv- 
alent thoughts. For my psychical state is al- 
ways just my inner state, it does not travel. 
Your psychical state is just your inner state, 
it does not become an outer state. Granting 
that thought-interchange is the regular speech 
in the spiritual world, it is the normal and most 
direct mode of communication between any and 
all spirits whether still in this world or out of it. 

Psychical Experience 21 

Telepathy may be called the universal psychical 
language. w 

The ability to read another's mind wittingly 
or unwittingly is intimately akin to the power 
known as clairvoyance or second sight. This 
power was originally attributed to persons in a 
mesmeric sleep by which they were supposed to 
discern objects concealed from sight or to see 
what happened at a distance. Mediums in a 
supposed trance were found to possess the same 
power. Some operators who experimented with 
mesmeric subjects found that they too had this 
power of interior vision, hence that the surrender 
to hypnosis or a trance was not necessary. 
Clairvoyance is in fact dependent on neither 
spirits nor exceptional mental states. It is 
simply perception at a distance when this inner 
seeing cannot be explained by reference to an- 
other mind, when not due to mere thought-trans- 
ference. It may involve reading another's mind 
at a distance or the perceiving of distant events. 
It readily runs over into what we vaguely call 
the prophetical faculty or sixth sense. It may 
include visions, hence it readily leads to mysti- 
cism. But while some who are psychically in- 
clined have the power to "see things" others 
merely feel or discern them without the seeing. 
It is akin to intuition, a word which fortunately 

22 The Open Vision 

we are never afraid of. Intuition underlies any 
number of efforts to read character, any number 
of clues which we spontaneously follow and re- 
gard as sane and worth while. At its best clair- 
voyance is inseparable from intuition and the 
open vision. 

Thus too clairaudience or clear-hearing implies 
an inner power or spiritual sense akin to the 
physical sense of hearing. One may apparently 
hear another's voice with all the clearness of 
spoken utterance when no other person present 
hears a sound. A person at a distance may be 
thinking of the recipient with a half -uttered de- 
sire to summon him or a longing to communicate 
by some more direct means. Thus the experience 
on the sender's end may be an excellent instance 
of spontaneous transfer. One need not doubt 
the reality of the clear-hearing on the part of the 
recipient just because it is accompanied by an 
illusion that the voice is external and physical. 
There is a corresponding experience of inner 
hearing and sometimes of speaking in the case 
of real psychical communications. That is, one 
may experience the motor-impulse but may not 
speak, one may seem to hear a sound but become 
immediately aware that it is a thought arousing 
a motor-associate. That a real psychical experi- 
ence may be accompanied by a motor-impulse 
need not surprise us at all. The point is that the 

Psychical Experience 23 

psychical experience on our part involves the 
possession of an interior or spiritual sense. We 
possess various spiritual senses and these corre- 
spond with the physical organs of sense. 

Every person possesses a "sphere" or mental 
atmosphere which like the odor of a rose dis- 
closes the nature and conditions of the source 
from which it comes. We unwittingly exchange 
many sorts of influence through our spheres. 
Those of us who are sensitive know the differ- 
ences between one presence and another, and we 
grow in inner discernment or intuition, well 
aware that some people are akin, some not. To 
be singled out as "clairvoyant" is to possess the 
same power in greater degree. Some have 
learned to depend on this visualizing intuition so 
that it has become a regular means of discerning 
the mental and physical states and conditions 
of people. Apparently we should all accustom 
ourselves to the conception of the human spirit 
as normally possessing these inner powers. 

To take up the subject of apparitions and 
other physical phenomena' would be to study the 
associates of psychical experience and raise the 
whole question of illusions and delusions. A 
credulous mind though desirably psychical may 
generate experiences that are objectively unreal. 
A "psychic" with mystic tendencies may project 
pictures and other imagery because of the ten- 

24 The Open Vision 

dencies 'of that type of mind. These external 
matters have been before the world for a long 
time. We are all cautious. What is now needed 
is acuter knowledge of the psychical background, 
the inner core of reality. 

Note, for example, the difference between al- 
leged messages coming from spirits by the in- 
strumentality of table-tipping, the ouija-bdard 
or automatic writing, and messages coming 
through direct inner impression. The physical 
instrument has apparently been used to arouse 
the recipient to the possibility of receiving 
thoughts by direct impression. Thereupon the 
use of material means has been given up and the 
great inner world has begun to receive attention. 
Others of us were fortunate enough to begin with 
direct impressions and so have not resorted to 
physical means save perhaps to help people to 
break away from them. There must always be 
direct impression behind the mere phenomena 
whenever the experience is real, whether or not 
the participants are aware of it. This after all 
is the real thing. We may throw the material 
accompaniment out of account and give ourselves 
over to a study of the processes going on in the 
mind, knowingly or unknowingly. 

By psychical experience then we mean a kind 
of inner experience taking place because man 
is a spirit with interior senses, powers of talking, 

Psychical Experience 25 

hearing, seeing, discerning from spheres, from 
minds, from spirits, in the spiritual world as well 
as in the natural. If we were interiorly awake 
we would know that we have these powers and 
would look to them first as guides. Partly 
asleep as we are, absorbed if not imprisoned in 
physical things, we need to be aroused. The 
form which psychical experiences assume when 
they come to awaken us depends upon the type 
of person. Psychical experience may take on 
successively higher forms as we proceed. It is 
incumbent upon us to discover the real inner ex- 
perience in each case, to seek its meaning and to 
distinguish it from its associates. 

It is out of the question to judge of the real- 
ity and value of inner experience either by refer- 
ence to the outward associates or by the char- 
acter of the recipient known as a "psychic." We 
need not be at all surprised to learn that speakers 
and writers of a high degree of refinement are 
open to help through psychical experience. It 
is a question of the point of view of inner experi- 
ence with its sources and values, the results to 
which it leads. 

Inner experience is what I come to know about 
when I learn in some degree the difference be- 
tween mind and brain, between consciousness 
and subconsciousness, between what I contribute 
from my personality and character and what is 

26 The Open Vision 

from conscience, from God and from other men. 
I am unable to explain such experiences by refer- 
ence to things and events outside of me as if I 
were a mere automaton with thoughts and feel- 
ings only apparently coming from myself. Nor 
am I able to explain away such experiences as 
if wholly produced within me by beings outside. 
I am a real participant. I may become as 
acutely intellectual as I like and still find that 
these inner experiences are untouched by my 
sceptical acumen. My experiences may continue 
while I am engaged in the usual daily occupa- 
tions, in every way vigorously normal. There is 
no necessary conflict between such experiences 
and what we call "sound sense." Such experi- 
ences need not separate a person from the social 
world. As a social being, a person has inner and 
psychical relationships as well as external relation- 
ships. In the inner world we are all the more in- 
timately "members one of another." If I would 
know myself as an individual in the profounder 
sense of the word I must understand these interior 
relationships. For in the inner world as well as 
in my external social life I have my affinities and 
dislikes, I am attracted or I am repelled, I close 
the door or I open it. For better or worse I ac- 
cept or reject all matters of moment on the basis 
of my inner preferences. Fortunate indeed am 
I if aware of the personal equation in this its more 

Psychical Experience 27 

intimate sense, if I possess a standard such that 
I discern the psychical in relation to the spiritual. 
Well too for me if I am led to keep my spirit open, 
that I may grow into appreciation of the real 
sources of religious experience. For I may then 
classify the psychical element of experience in its 
proper place, and help my fellow-men to make 
the same classification. 

We conclude then that psychical experience 
has no necessary connection with spiritualism or 
any form of occultism. In fact, we conclude 
that the psychical element of the inner life is in 
itself neutral or non-committal. It may be com- 
bined with any conceivable assemblage of human 
powers, in any temperament, in connection with 
any kind of belief in any age or nation. It is 
simply an element or aspect of inner human ex- 
perience. The same spiritual senses or powers 
are used in any case, from the lowest to the high- 
est type, and to condemn the psychical unquali- 
fiedly would be to condemn our entire spiritual 
nature. It is a question of the type of person, 
the degree of intelligence, the use which is made 
of psychical power, the enlightenment in the 
given instance. In the psychical as such there 
is nothing to fear. What plays havoc is misin- 
terpretation and misuse. We are capable of 
coming into clear light and seeing the true mean- 
ing and the true values. 



We have now to consider whether the re- 
searches of those who have employed modern 
critical methods of investigation have brought 
us the evidences and standards we need to deter- 
mine the value of psychical experiences. Doubt- 
less we would all agree that the contributions of 
psychical research are highly important. Before 
the days of such research there was no general 
effort to discover the facts of experience apart 
from a particular type of belief such as spiritual- 
ism or theosophy. We did not then know how 
very large a percentage of men and women have 
had at least a few experiences in the course of a 
life-time which might be put down on the scien- 
tific list as psychical. Science had for the most 
part ignored the whole field of phenomena bor- 
dering on spiritism. The churches had little 
definite teaching to give, save perhaps to warn 
the public against communications through 
mediums. The founders of the Society for 
Psychical Research literally created a field for 
investigation by being willing to inquire into all 
phenomena of a psychical nature for truth's sake. 


Psychical Research 29 

Moreover, its greatest contribution to psycho- 
logical theory, Mr. Myer's view of our deeper 
nature called by him "the subliminal self," has 
greatly enriched our psychological knowledge. 
Under the name "subconscious" we have all come 
to take interest in this part of our nature lying 
below the threshold of consciousness and to make 
allowances for it in our thought and in our inter- 

Some of us have followed the development of 
psychical research with great interest since its 
beginnings in America in the acute work of 
Richard Hodgson, and the suggestive tolerance 
and interest of Professor James. In the early 
years thought-transference had not yet been 
scientifically proved, but when it was satisfac- 
torily established on a scientific basis the tendency 
was to explain every alleged spirit-communica- 
tion by reference to it. There are devotees of 
psychical research today who believe that all such 
communications can be so explained. Next 
came the acceptance of the idea of spirit-return 
after persistent effort to detect fraud or illusion 
in the work of mediums like Mrs. Piper. The 
results were better after this idea was accepted, 
for an interrupting doubt was removed. Con- 
vincing evidence of spirit-return, of the persis- 
tence of identity after death has been obtained, 
and people who have had no direct psychical ex- 

30 The Open Vision 

periences of their own have come to believe in the 
reality of spirit-communications. Furthermore 
there have been some remarkable evidences capa- 
ble of manifold proof in the case of messages 
given in part through one medium and verified 
or completed by "cross correspondence" through 
another. Such evidences are now before the 
public in the works of Sir. W. F. Barrett, Pro- 
fessor Hyslop and other well known writers on 
psychical research, as well as in the reports of 
the English Society. 

Some of us have expressed impatience that the 
work of the Society was so deliberate with such 
meagre results at first. We have looked for 
more conclusions. We expected more light on 
the nature of the life after death. We awaited 
inspirational teachings. But, as a member of 
the Society has explained, the Society for Psy- 
chical Research stands for investigations, not con- 
clusions. A majority of its members now believe 
in thought-transference and many believe in 
spirit-return. There is a great advantage in 
limiting the inquiry to the effort to establish the 
persistence of identity, and apparently trivial 
facts in connection with efforts to prove spirit- 
return have real value. We have all profited 
by the investigation. We need not stop where 
this research leaves off. We are sure to benefit 
by reacting upon it. 

Psychical Reseaech 31 

Professor Hyslop's recent book, "Contact 
with the Other World," may be taken as an illus- 
tration of the values and limitations of such re- 
search. The author is himself convinced of the 
reality of spirit-communication through medi- 
ums. But he takes his readers carefully over 
the whole field from ancient times, discusses 
telepathy, also the processes of communications, 
and gives strong evidences in favor of messages 
from prominent men such as Professor James 
and Dr. Isaac Funk who were interested in psy- 
chical research before they left this world. The 
author also discusses such questions as reincarna- 
tion, obsession and mediumship. In brief, one 
has a complete view of the psychical realm as the 
man of science regards it. Some of the most 
prominent of the early members of the Society 
have now passed to the other life, and apparently 
their work there is being carried on in much the 
same way as when here, save that they are now 
in the position of spirits desiring to communicate. 
We seem actually to have bridged the chasm and 
to have a view of psychical research as carried 
on in both worlds. 

When we have finished the book and have 
seen by what process of reasoning the author 
has been led to believe that there is satisfactory 
evidence for the survival of consciousness after 
death, where have we arrived? How does it 

32 The Open Vision 

leave the question of psychical experience for you 
and me? Shall we say that we are convinced 
too? Or is an argument based on the evidences 
which have convinced others still mere intellec- 
tual testimony awaiting confirmation? 

One must admit that many difficulties have 
been cleared away. The author has satisfac- 
torily explained some of the confusions which 
have made it hard to get messages over. He is 
well aware of the complexities under which a 
spirit operates when trying to communicate and 
of the obstacles on this side. One questions 
whether any one could have become so intimately 
aware of the conditions and difficulties unless the 
experiences in question had somehow been very 

For example, definite light is thrown on the 
means of communicating ideas from spirits which 
reduce themselves to a single process. There 
are to be sure two general forms of communica- 
tion, sensory and motor, corresponding to the 
two channels known to all of us whereby the 
mind is related to the physical world. In the 
sensory field clairvoyance is most in evidence. 
But the voices heard are as real as the visions 
seen. Whatever the sensory form, whether per- 
taining to sight, touch, hearing, smelling or 
tasting, or even in the case of emotional experi- 
ences, all are reducible to the same type, "the 

Psychical Research 33 

pictographic process." This process means that 
the communicating spirit succeeds in eliciting in 
the subject or medium a sensory phantasm or 
representation of his thought. This process of 
mental picturing in the subject's mind then leads 
to the several well known means of expression, 
for example, through automatic writing. The 
subject does not necessarily draw pictures and 
may not be aware of seeing any mental pictures, 
but this is the underlying process preceding the 
expression of the message through spoken or 
written words. The psychical experience in 
brief consists of the receiving of mental pictures 
impressed on the mind by the communicator and 
the translation of these into words which repre- 
sent the imagery. The direct means of com- 
munication is through the subliminal or subcon- 
scious region of the subject's mind. The pan- 
oramic stream of images transmitted from the 
communicator may undergo some abbreviation 
or interpretation in the mind of the subject, 
hence there may be confusion and difficulty in 
the transmission. 

"Though we can only name it without describ- 
ing the intimate nature of the process, we can 
understand that it makes communication more 
intelligible than does the study of the mechanical 
devices or methods of communication. We are 
nearer the heart of the problem when we are 

34 The Open Vision 

able to recognize a psychological process in it. 
We do not know in detail all that goes on, but 
when we can conceive that a mental picture in 
the mind of the communicator is transmitted, 
perhaps telepathically, to the psychic or to the 
control; even though we do not know how this 
occurs, we can understand why the message 
takes the form that it does in the mind of the 
psychic and why the whole process assumes the 
form of a description of visual, or a report of 
auditory images. The whole process of facts is 
thus systematized as a single process, whose spe- 
cific form of transmission is determined by the 
sense through which it is expressed.'' * 

There is no reason then for assuming that the 
whole process comes from the communicating 
spirit and that we must prove this in order to 
show that the medium is honest. Popular 
thought fails to take full account of the process 
of receiving and translating going on below the 
threshold in the subject. We overlook the fact 
that there is necessarily such a process, just as in 
sense-perception all our acquaintance with the 
natural world is obtained through the cooperation 
of our own organism. But when we understand 
that there is a cooperative process going on in 
subconsciousness in all cases whatever, and when 
we are able to conceive of this as pictographic on 
the inner side and as expressing itself through 

i Page 117. 

Psychical Research 35 

writing, speech, etc., on the outer side, we have 
a way to make the whole experience of communi- 
cating intelligible. 

We already know about mental images. We 
know too that there was a primitive form of lan- 
guage employed by the ancient Egyptians and 
by the Indians which consisted of pictographs. 
Indeed we have at least a general idea of the 
whole language of correspondence once widely 
employed, that is, the representation or por- 
trayal of ideas by means of pictures, images, 
forms of speech, symbols. We have direct clues 
to this correspondence in the case of our own 
mental pictures which are compact ways of put- 
ting before the mind the ends of action, the inter- 
ests we propose to realize. These mental images, 
we know, precede and lead to action, that is, our 
motor images. What is more natural than that 
a spirit communicating with a mind in the flesh 
should convey through a succession of mental 
pictures ideas which can take form through 
words in the recipient's mind? For this process 
of translation from image to idea or to conduct 
is already in operation in our mental life. We 
would not expect that a communication from a 
spirit would occur save through a process already 
active. Thus far we seem to be wholly on the 
right track. What we need is further know- 
ledge concerning spiritual speech, that which is 

36 The Open Vision 

prior to the recipient state in the subject's mind. 

What, however, shall we say of the results 
thus far, when we try to think in the terms and 
with the facts which psychical research gives us? 
Shall we depend chiefly on messages purporting 
to come through mediums? Shall we consult 
mediums or attempt automatic writing? 

Without minimizing in any way the results to 
which psychical research has led us, let us con- 
sider whether we can think the subject through 
to the end. In common with psychologists of 
the day. Professor Hyslop, for example, uses the 
term "spirit" in the sense of "the stream of con- 
sciousness." He leaves us with facts which he 
says "indicate something supernormal." From 
these he "infers" the continuity of personal iden- 
tity, although he says we do not know the con- 
ditions of existence in the other world. He 
places much emphasis on the limitations of our 
knowledge. He keeps close to the ground and 
never makes a flight in the free air to see if there 
be another point of view. Always keeping the 
materialistic point of view in mind as a point of 
view to be overcome, namely, that there is no 
such thing as spirit and that the supernormal 
phenomena in question might be explained as 
due to functions of the brain, he is interested to 
state the usual sceptical difficulties and to try to 
meet them. In fine, he works up from below. 
He never supplies a spiritual criterion. 

Psychical Research 37 

— —■— — — — ' I.. I., 

Yet why, one might ask, should one forever be 
primarily concerned with sceptical difficulties, 
why make these concessions to materialism? 
Taking seriously the notion that the human spirit 
is a "stream," the critic might object that even 
if the stream should survive for a time it might 
run itself out and leave us in the mere realm of 
phenomena. We need much more than infer- 
ence in order to believe. The author may have 
disclosed a point of "contact" with the other 
world. But he does not give us that world as a 
reality. It is the vividly spiritual world that we 
need, at least an idea of it such that we may all 
set about verifying the conception. We need a 
view of the human spirit which takes us beyond 
mere psychological description. We are con- 
cerned with the whole self. For many of us the 
spiritual world is already far more real than an 
assemblage of "mental states." We are not led 
to conceive of it as "mental and creative." This 
characterization suggests subjective idealism, as 
if space and time were merely in ourselves, as if 
each self projected thought-forms upon a world 
whose reality we could never know. To start 
with this philosophy would be to find difficulties 
all along the way. 

Again, one is inclined to raise questions when 
invited to maintain the attitude of the devotee 
of psychical research. Nearly always the test or 

38 The Open Vision 

experiment under precise conditions is regarded 
as of greater value than experiences coming 
spontaneously. Naturally research is pushed as 
far as possible and sceptical objections are raised 
as long as one can propose them. But the re- 
sult seems to be that one is always dealing with 
parts of our nature, never the whole. The re- 
sulting conclusions are meagre too. We know 
from perfectly real and genuine experience that 
life is very much larger. It would be impossible, 
for example, ever to tell in evidential terms under 
precise experiment what love is and why. We 
always appeal to "values" surpassing analysis. 
The higher the experience in type the harder we 
find it to submit to tests and critical observation. 
This explains why some of us have been unable 
to respond to the requests of investigators. In 
the case of thought-transference, for example, 
the researcher would have us try the experiment 
with a person who is a mere acquaintance, and 
would have us endeavor to transmit a thought of 
no interest to either party. He is doubtful about 
telepathy between friends. Yet it may be the 
friendly affinity and the personal interest in con- 
veying a message which establishes the connec- 
tion. A spontaneous experience involving mat- 
ters of real interest might be worth a hundred 
experiments. One may not be able to describe 
all the conditions or state all the facts afterwards, 

Psychical Research 39 

yet the experience may have been profoundly 

Psychical experiences which come spontane- 
ously, unsought, seem to belong to the more in- 
terior part of our nature. They come for a good 
reason or purpose. We are able to connect them 
with much that has gone before and with results 
presently coming to pass. One may need vari- 
ous experiences to have a conviction that they are 
real. Honest doubt may play an important part 
for a long time. But the attitude of mind is dif- 
ferent from that of the researcher who has laid 
down the conditions of an experiment. It is not 
necessary to think so much of the subconscious 
mind as possibly playing the most important part 
and perhaps generating a message attributed to 
a spirit. On the other hand, one is carrying on a 
very different kind of research if you please : one 
is observing the experiences which come unsought 
through the years and comparing them to learn 
their meaning and value. One makes use of 
psychical power to some extent voluntarily, but 
always in line with what spontaneous experiences 
have disclosed. The facts and their implications 
put together seem to yield us a larger conception 
of the spirit, to give us a more real spiritual 
world, and to make it seem very near and acces- 
sible. The standard applied throughout is the 
Christian test: "by their fruits ye shall know 

40 The Open Vision 

Experience with spontaneously given commu- 
nications teaches that the believing attitude is the 
one into which the spirit must grow. One must 
pass beyond the point where mere proof or evi- 
dence is in question. One must overcome the 
desire for something marvellous or spectacular. 
When the last word through mediums has been 
uttered we shall still be left where we demand 
convincing personal evidence. But such evi- 
dences might come to us directly if we would give 
up mere experiment, penetrate beyond all such 
means as table-tipping, automatic writing and 
spelling by the ouija-board, and give heed to the 
inner experience, the real psychical experience. 
Meanwhile, we may make immediate use of the 
information which psychical research gives us 
concerning the psychological process, the picto- 
graphic series which underlies various messages, 
We may then look elsewhere for light on the na- 
ture of spiritual speech. 

It becomes a question of studying the methods 
of communication to see what the implied psychi- 
cal experiences are, and of following the develop- 
ment of psychical power in ourselves or in others 
in so far as its spontaneous activities put us in 
possession of a clue. Eventually we come to 
need a higher view of the human spirit than 
psychical research gives us, a higher type of sci- 
ence than commonly passes current. It ceases 

Psychical Research 41 

to be a question of the application of sceptical 
tests and becomes a question of a spiritual cri- 
terion or standard by which to judge the value 
of various types of inner experience. In the last 
analysis every one needs such a standard, needs 
a definite idea of inner perception. For in the 
last analysis each of us is led to a consideration of 
psychical experience by direct impression as the 
higher study in this field. Hence each is brought 
to a point where he takes more seriously the teach- 
ing that man lives in two worlds at once, and can 
begin to know while still on earth something defi- 
nite concerning his relationship with the spiritual 
world as a real world. Psychical research may 
have helped him to define his field, to distinguish 
it from the vague realm of spiritism, and may 
have given him the right to talk about psychical 
experiences without being classified as a fool. 
Yet eventually he must look rather to the growth 
of purposive inner experiences within him, and 
subject all his conclusions to the test of inner per- 
ception. This will not mean that he puts indi- 
vidual experience above science, but that inner 
perception itself implies science of another type, 
and a philosophy of the inter-relationship of the 
two worlds. We may then come to see that the 
values of psychical research were foreseen and 
surpassed long ago. 



The preceding inquiry naturally leads to a 
distinction between the content of psychical ex- 
periences, the message said to come over from 
the other world, or the information gained in- 
tuitively concerning people and things in the 
flesh; and the modes and conditions through 
which the experience takes place. The intel- 
lectual activity in a spirit's mind, for example, 
might lead to a series of impressions on the part 
of the recipient and their translation into forms 
of expression dependent on the recipient's psychi- 
cal constitution, the knowledge possessed, the 
symbols employed, the language commonly used. 
This recipiency and process of transmission or 
translation would be the psychical experience as 
such. The external modes of expression would 
be another matter, not properly psychical but 
psycho-physical in the form of motor reactions. 
The more we know about the human mind and 
the human organism the more accurately we 
should be able to explain the outward process. 

We would hardly expect the outward expres- 
sion to rise higher than the intelligence or mental 


Methods of Communication 43 

type of the recipient would imply. But we 
might find that external means serve a purpose 
for a time to bring to a person's attention the 
inner or psychical process. Thus an experience 
with automatic writing or other means might be 
inwardly genuine and might lead to good results. 
There is no reason why we should not acknowl- 
edge this and then point the way to its values. 

For example, a physician in the West once 
took up a pencil and proceeded spontaneously to 
write without ever having seen automatic writing 
and without knowing anything about the process. 
Apparently, he was open to spiritual teachings 
but did not know it. He might have enjoyed di- 
rect inner experience, but again he was appar- 
ently unaware even of its possibility. To his 
great surprise he received a message advising him 
to prepare himself for the ministry. Inquiring 
what church he should fit for and mentioning the 
names of various well known churches, he was at 
length given the name of an organization of 
whose existence he was wholly unaware. Still 
greatly surprised he asked questions till he re- 
ceived further instructions, became convinced of 
the truth of the message, sought out the organ- 
ization to which he had been referred and began 
his theological studies. He had no further ex- 
periences with the pencil. His psychical experi- 
ence served as temporary means and was wholly 

44 The Open Vision 

harmless. His case is perhaps typical of those 
who with good sense have regarded a message 
as they might any advice given by a wise person 
in the flesh, advice to be taken or rejected. In 
this case the advice was taken because on being 
put to the test it steadily led to good results. 
The initial experience was soon surpassed by the 
inner illumination which followed. 

The phenomena of the ouija-board are not 
often so simple. People experiment with it who 
have no inkling of the nature of psychical experi- 
ence or the involuntary phenomena likely to 
accompany it. The board is regarded not only 
as mysterious but as a means to omniscience, as 
if any possible information could be gained 
through it concerning the trivial future and what 
conduct one should indulge in under minor con- 
ditions. People vary in their attitude all the 
way from a scepticism which leaves the organism 
stiffly unyielding to a credulity which makes it 
possible for two subconscious minds cooperating 
to generate messages in which spirits did not 
play the least part. The most absurd questions 
are asked and advice is sought on the supposition 
that any word purporting to come from the least 
enlightened person in the other world is worth 
more than the greatest wisdom obtainable in this 
world. It is not strange that many in our day 
are seeking light on the life after death by means 

Methods of Communication 45 

of this misused board. But it is not to be won- 
dered at that most of its gyrations are worth prac- 
tically nothing. 

In the first place, remembering that psychical 
experience is one thing and automatism in any 
of its forms another, let us note some of 
the phenomena of automatism. Either because 
there is a communicating spirit present whose 
mode of getting messages over differs from that 
of others, or because the two sitting at the board 
are unlike two others who try the experiment at 
another time, the gyrations are certainly various. 
Here is an alleged spirit for example whose 
motion is very slow, with each word spelled out 
deliberately. Here is another spirit coming to 
the same two people under the same conditions 
whose motion as expressed in the cooperative 
automatism of the sitters is very rapid. Again, 
two others trying the experiment in another place 
and without previous acquaintance with the ouija- 
board appear to summon up a spirit whose com- 
munication is expressed in a peculiar zig-zag 
motion from letter to letter never before wit- 
nessed by observers who have noted differences 
such as those mentioned above. On still another 
occasion two people receive what seems to be a 
real message containing excellent advice for 
some one present. A name is spelled out and 
the gentle motion of the little board as it moves 

46 The Open Vision 

from letter to letter coincides with the character 
of the alleged communicator as known when on 
earth. This spirit apparently comes on two 
occasions. On the third occasion the motion of 
the little board is suddenly changed through no 
cause known to the sitters; it is full of rapid 
dashings, ellipses and circles, while the sentences 
spelled out are totally different in character 
from that of the message thus rudely interrupted. 
The communicating spirit explains on another 
occasion that a bothersome spirit who gave the 
name of "Mary" intervened and must be driven 
away. Probably all who have had opportunity 
to observe the phenomena of the board have wit- 
nessed such variations as this. What is one to 

One may of course take note of the messages 
and compare them to see if the results throw any 
light on their value. But such comparison does 
not seem to lead very far. Here are messages 
given on successive occasions by one whose motion 
is gentle. The messages are coherent. Their 
wisdom seems to apply to the need of the person 
to whom they are addressed. It hardly appears 
credible that the subconscious cooperation or 
automatism of the persons present has produced 
them. There is a prophecy even which is ful- 
filled in due time. The communicating spirit 
explains why she prefers to convey a message 

Methods of Communication 47 

through one of the sitters, namely, because she 
is "open," but advises this young person not to 
try the board often. She also gives an intelligi- 
ble account of her present activities. But to the 
surprise of all she says on three Sundays when 
attempts were made to get a message through, 
that nothing will be given on Sunday: "we rest 
on Sunday." How can one reconcile this un- 
expected message with what we learn from other 
sources, that is, that in the spiritual world time 
as we know it is not in question? 

Here are two other experimenters, one appar- 
ently as "open" as the young woman above re- 
ferred to. Each receives a plausible message, 
although unconvinced. But there follows a 
prophecy and a warning, the day and the month 
being given, in which there proves to be not a 
word of truth, and the message carries no con- 
viction whatever to the recipients. It was a 
sheer product of automatism. Other messages 
are so conflicting that the experimenters give up 
the board once for all. Neither participant 
seems voluntarily to have yielded either her or- 
ganism or external memory to any communica- 
ting spirit. If the messages are to be explained 
on a psychological basis, it must be by reference 
to subconscious cooperation and automatism. 
But here are two persons receiving a message 
associated with zig-zag motions on the board, 

48 The Open Vision 

when it is very evident to observant onlookers 
that the whole message might have been gener- 
ated in response to the desire of the stronger 
minded participant. The only interesting fact 
about it all is the peculiar zig-zag motion through 
which the automatism expresses itself. 

Still further, here is a person who receives 
messages when sitting alone at the board. The 
motion of the board is very rapid, so that the 
observers are hardly able to follow and to spell 
out the communications. The noteworthy fact 
about the messages is that they are all incoherent 
assemblages of detached words so that it is diffi- 
cult to detect any intelligible meaning. Another 
person sits down with the recipient. The motion 
is much less rapid, but the wording is still ab- 
surdly incoherent. A third person tries. The 
motion is still more slow and the hands of the 
person in question are plainly a drag. Messages 
come during half an hour or more, but they are 
all fragmentary and wholly unconvincing. The 
motions plainly come through the instrumental- 
ity of the one who tried the board alone. She 
has no particular interest in the phenomena one 
way or another but is "willing." She possesses 
psychical power but has not yet le'arned its use. 
Nor does she understand automatisms. 

Plainly, nothing definite can be learned from 
a study of the phenomena alone. One may in- 

Methods of Communication 49 

deed learn something about the psychical ability 
of the participants. One has a collection of 
facts concerning the various motions of the board, 
the contrasts and conflicts of alleged messages, 
and one is free to make use of any instruction 
which may be tested as any bit of mundane ad- 
vice is tested. But one can place no reliance 
whatever on prognostications. The alleged 
spirits are obviously no wiser than we are. The 
interferences by deterrent forces simply give rise 
to a problem which cannot in any way be settled 
on the basis of a study of external phenomena. 

What we seem to need to test the reality of 
such gyrations is another form of evidence given 
independently in the way known as "cross cor- 
respondence" and confirmed from within by 
actual psychical experience. For example, two 
friends of mine handed me ouija-board messages 
purporting to come from someone I know in the 
spiritual world. Two other friends claimed to 
have received messages in the same way from the 
same spirit. To my surprise, another friend us- 
ing the pencil apparently received a communica- 
tion from the same source. This looked on the 
face of it like a concerted effort to show me that a 
message received in this fashion could be genuine. 
But the first message was a warning and on the 
face of it looked highly improbable and it was 
never fulfilled. The second had no discoverable 

50 The Open Vision 

relation with either of the others. The third 
contained no verifiable meaning whatever. It 
seemed strongly improbable that this spirit, long 
since gone, was once more present and using these 
means. What was lacking was inner confirma- 
tion and this could readily have been given by 
direct inner impression. Again, I was left with 
phenomena simply. The fact that the same 
name was given in connection with the several 
messages could be explained on another basis, 
namely, that each of these friends was interested 
to obtain for me a message from this particular 
spirit. There was no intention on their part to 
mislead, or to generate a message out of the sub- 
conscious. But granted a certain half -conscious 
interest on their part, and expectant attention 
concerning the movements of the ouija-board, 
then the rest readily followed. The name of the 
person was the one which any friend would be 
most likely to think of and to contribute involun- 
tarily. I could not accept a message purporting 
to come from that source unless my inner con- 
sciousness in the form of guidance should give 
emphatic assent and bid me consider it. 

There is plainly a disadvantage in any experi- 
ment with a ouija-board when one sits down with 
the intention of receiving a message. For inad- 
vertently one puts the organism into a state to 
indulge in automatic movements, involuntarily 

Methods of Communication 51 

one gives play to one's subconsciousness. The 
minds of the participants or observers readily 
supply subject-matter, although unintentionally. 
Involuntarily, too, expectant attention plays its 
part in the case of those who are eager to learn 
about the welfare of friends in the spiritual 
world. There are several mental factors to 
allow for, also the fact that the human organism 
readily responds to automatic action. Hence 
there is basis for doubt and careful analysis, 
howbeit sceptical scrutiny is likely to interfere 
with the believing attitude. What one desires is 
evidence that can overcome all objections that can 
be urged within reason. Some of us are persist- 
ently doubtful about a means of communication 
involving so many grounds for question as the 
ouija-board. It does not seem worth while to 
press on through all the difficulties when there is 
a way that is so much more direct. 

But now let us turn to a writer who met adverse 
and baffling conditions at times but who pressed 
on through the phenomena of automatism and 
arrived at better results. In "The Seven Pur- 
poses" Margeret Cameron describes the genesis 
of messages received through planchette and 
later by automatic writing developed to a high 
point of efficiency. The writer was not origi- 
nally interested in such phenomena and took up 
the experiments with planchette without beliefs 

52 The Open Vision 

or expectations. This was a very great advan- 
tage. She early noticed a "curious sense of 
vitality" preceding the motion, also differences 
in the motion, including that of a strong and 
brisk movement associated with a spirit differing 
in type from others who came early. The per- 
sonalities of those communicating were recog- 
nized slowly, but after a time three individuals 
were distinctively noted, while the personality of 
an interrupting spirit or deterrent force early 
became manifest. When another hand broke in 
there was obvious evidence of something real in 
the messages. So too the change from plan- 
chette to the pencil afforded a basis of fact by 
which to judge. 

One of the communicating spirits, Frederick, 
interspersed tricks with the pencil, such as "joy- 
circles" and inverted writing, in order to over- 
come doubts. Apparently, as in the case of 
psychical research, it was necessary to give con- 
vincing evidence that the same identity persists 
into the other life. It was plainly necessary too 
to overcome doubt, for although the recipient 
was described as "especially sensitive as a mes- 
senger" she had to be taught the believing atti- 
tude by repeated statements to the effect that 
"doubt breaks the connection." 

Sometimes messages were conveyed to the re- 
cipient directly, before being written, and the 

Methods of Communication 53 

writer was one day told that the mind could be 
read directly, "if you will let me in, and learn." 
It was explained that fear of one's imaginings 
is deterrent. What is needed is a "relaxed and 
receptive mind — not a tense and resisting one," 
hence it was necessary to give much instruction 
concerning the mental states such as doubt, fear, 
grief, which hinder. Until "we are realized and 
recognized," so an instructing spirit said, there 
cannot be complete communion. 

Persistently baffling difficulties were encoun- 
tered in the effort to convince one of the persons 
in the flesh for whom messages came, and some 
of the statements made by the communicating 
spirit were misleading and unverifiable as they 
stood. But these difficulties overcome, a series 
of lessons was given, together with evidences that 
on the other side there was team-work to get in- 
struction over to this plane. Despite this group- 
ing "for a purpose," however, there was a period 
when the writer contended with persistently de- 
terrent forces and a "deliberate drive by malign 
powers." This persistent attack continued for 
three days, and much faith was required on the 
part of the writer to press on. Later there were 
signs which made it possible to distinguish the 
personality by "the degree and quality of force 
applied to the pencil." Still later explanations 
were forthcoming on the part of the group to the 

54 The Open Vision 

effect that even they with all their additional 
power were hindered for a time. 

One might wonder why this group did not 
warn the recipient of these messages that a con- 
certed attempt to interfere with the giving of 
messages was in process. But the explanation 
came that nothing must be done which might 
coerce or deprive the writer of her freedom. 
"In your individual struggle we may not inter- 
fere, even if it concerns our work. You must 
believe or doubt according to your own choice 
... we cannot tell you that disintegrating 
forces threaten you, until you have recognized 
them. Then we can help you repel them. . . . 
Details of your personal struggles may not be 
explained. They are your development. . . . 
Malevolent and crafty forces are about, striving 
to thwart progressive effort." What is needed 
on the part of people here is "a free heart, a free 
mind, a free hope to come into." 

Evidently ignorance is a channel for disin- 
tegrating forces. One must become informed 
and learn how to close the door. The teaching 
of the book is that there are adverse forces try- 
ing to prevent the giving of such messages and 
teachings. But one is encouraged to persist 
through all difficulties. The experiences accom- 
panying the messages are instructive. And de- 
finite information is vouchsafed in regard to the 

Methods of Communication 55 

means of communicating, as in the following: 
"The subconscious mind is like the battery, 
but the connection is made through the hand. 
The motive power for the pencil does not come, 
as scientists claim, from the subconscious mind, 
but from the subtle force I mentioned, put into 
connection with the hand by certain sympathetic 
and sensitive conditions of the subconscious 
mind. . . . The force is not electric, and has cer- 
tain definitely distinctive qualities not to be ex- 
pressed in any terms now familiar on your plane ; 
but in time words will be found — or coined — to 
express this connection." * 

In another passage the statement is made that 
sometimes the pencil is pushed, sometimes the 
mind is approached directly. It is said to be 
easier to impress the mind, but harder for the 
recipient to learn that the message is from a spirit 
and not due to his own suggestion. This state- 
ment throws light on the experiences some have 
had when the propelling force seemed to be ap- 
plied to the pencil from the outside. It may well 
be that the external movement of the pencil has 
been needed to convince automatic writers that 
a force other than that of their own minds was 
at work, that the message was really produced 
by a spirit. Possibly too the real use of plan- 
chette or the ouija-board is to attract attention to 

i Page 251. 

56 The Open Vision 

the phenomena, as baffling as they may be, that 
one may press on as did Margaret Cameron to 
knowledge of the conditions and then on far be- 
yond these messages. 

Nothing of course can be established by study 
of the phenomena of communication apart from 
the content of the message. The really eviden- 
tial part of any book is the teaching which it con- 
tains. But granted the above acquaintance with 
the conditions we may put two and two together 
and connect the pictographic process with the 
facts concerning the external phenomena. We 
may then gain something like a complete view 
of the various conditions. 

Surely, one cannot advise any one to seek com- 
munications by aid of the ouija-board, since the 
conditions are subtle and complex, and there is 
likelihood of being deceived. Nevertheless one 
must admit that when a young person who is 
"open," with no interest in the experiment for 
or against, receives messages whose meaning can 
be rationally tested, one should be free to con- 
sider the experiences as genuinely psychical, not 
mere products of automatism. The pencil has 
a distinct advantage over the board. Its phe- 
nomena may at least serve to attract attention 
and provoke thought. The messages which have 
been received in this way during the past few 
years show a decided advance in intelligibility. 

Methods of Communication 57 

These messages are not of course conclusive in 
themselves, apart from a study of inner experi- 
ence. The possibility of real inner experiences 
uniting us with the spiritual world is after all 
the great consideration, and when we see this 
clearly we may pass beyond the study of phe- 
nomena. What we need is the highest guidance 
we can find, the highest source of consolation, the 
purest light on the life after death. We are not 
likely to find that which is highest while we linger 
on the psychical level. The psychical is always 
a means to ends, never an end itself. Not until 
we pass beyond it are we able to understand the 
psychical in relation to the spiritual. May we 
say then that our age is about to take this next 
step in earnest and to pass beyond the psychical 
into greater knowledge of spiritual realities ? * 

iln "The Hill of Vision," New York, 1919, an illuminating 
account of automatic writing is given which should be convinc- 
ing to any one who thinks that consciousness is the determining 
factor. The automatist received continuous, intelligible messages 
while continuously reading a book requiring unbroken attention. 



That a person may grow simply and naturally 
into knowledge and use of psychical power is 
shown in the case of P. P. Quimby, pioneer of 
the spiritual healing movement in America. 
We may consider his experience quite apart from 
any interest in his teachings or any objections to 
them. The example would serve as well if he 
had taken up any other form of spiritual work 
on an original basis. For the significant con- 
sideration is that he had an open mind, no beliefs 
that kept him from investigations for truth's sake, 
and no attitude towards life which closed the door 
to inner guidance so far as any of us know 
who have had acquaintance with his relatives and 
his followers. Again his experience is interest- 
ing because he was not in any sense a spiritist, 
and apparently had no reason for attributing 
any of his experiences or guidances to angels or 
spirits. He did not seek to cultivate psychical 
power for its own sake and the problems of 
psychical research did not exist for him. Such 
power as he acquired came in the course of inves- 
tigations with purely practical interests in view. 


The Awakening of Psychical Power 59 

Because of a strong personal desire for light 
on his own health, Mr. Quimby experimented for 
a time, beginning in 1838, with the phenomena 
now known as hypnotism but then called mes- 
merism. He found a responsive subject whom 
he calls Lucius in his manuscripts, a peculiarly 
sensitive subject who became very clairvoyant 
when under mesmeric sleep or hypnosis. This 
subject when thus clairvoyant would sometimes 
describe the interior states of people suffering 
from disease in such a way as to lead Mr. Quimby 
to believe that man possesses a deeper or interior 
mind whose contents throw more light on the 
real nature of a person's attitude toward life, his 
beliefs, and fears, than any study of man's mere 
consciousness. In fact, Quimby concluded that 
not until the inner mind is known can we be truly 
said to know the man, or be able to help him out 
of his spiritual troubles. For the inner mind 
was plainly more open to what we now call 
"suggestion." It also had a more direct influ- 
ence upon the physical organism. This was 
Quimby's original way of discovering what we 
now call the subconscious mind. 

Having found and followed this clue for a 
while, Quimby discovered to his surprise that by 
sitting silently by a person, intuitively receptive 
to the inner mind, he too possessed clairvoyant 
power and could not only discern interior spirit- 

60 The Open Vision 

ual states but also conditions within the bodily- 
organism not obvious to sight and not taken into 
account by the physician's diagnosis. This for 
Quimby was an epoch-making discovery, for it 
was no longer necessary to make use of the sen- 
sitive as an intermediary. It was unnecessary 
to put a person into a mesmeric sleep. This 
was undesirable and abnormal. But the clair- 
voyant or intuitive power which Quimby found 
himself in possession of was entirely normal. 
Nor need one have recourse to spirits or have any- 
thing to do with mediumship, since this intuitive 
power was found to be resident within the indi- 
vidual. What was important was to press for- 
ward in developing and using intuition. This 
Mr. Quimby did without trying to cultivate 
psychical power as such, because his discoveries 
had opened up a new world of helpfulness for 
people in spiritual need. 

The peculiar beliefs about diseases and the 
method of cure which Quimby espoused need 
not concern us here. Suffice it that through long 
practice in rendering himself receptive to the in- 
ner minds of his patients Quimby grew in in- 
tuitive discernment and acquired a philosophy 
of the inner life which throws light on psychical 
experience. The first clue was the discovery of 
clairvoyance or intuition on his own part, and the 
fact that this power grew with use, that is, by 

The Awakening or Psychical Power 61 

depending on it, by regarding its disclosures as 
of more value than what passes current as know- 
ledge in the world but which is oftentimes merely 
opinion based on appearances. The second step 
was the discovery, made by sitting silently and 
receptively by the sick, that each person carries 
around him a sphere or atmosphere which dis- 
closes the inner conditions and states. This 
sphere differs with each individual, and shows 
a person to be sensitive or stubborn, hopeful or 
pessimistic, negative or positive as the case may 
be. It is the direct clue to subconsciousness and 
by becoming acquainted with it one learns how 
interior states and mental attitudes affect bodily 
changes. The process known as "silent treat- 
ment" operates directly through the subcon- 
sciousness of the patient, and the changes made 
disclose themselves in the mental atmosphere. 
The healer is thus able to see what his work is 
accomplishing and to perceive the forthcoming 
changes long before the patient becomes aware 
of them. An atmosphere or sphere can be dis- 
cerned at a distance, also, and so the therapeutic 
process may be carried on absently. 

Quimby does not seem to have regarded this 
discovery as remarkable, nor did he hold that 
the influence of mental atmosphere is at all ab- 
normal or unusual. He was not acquiring super- 
normal knowledge of the human individual, but 

62 The Open Vision 

merely finding out what is partly true of all of us 
and especially true of the sensitively organized, 
namely, that through the world of our mental 
atmospheres or spiritual spheres we are inti- 
mately "members one of another." He held 
that we all influence one another far more than 
we know, for we ordinarily judge by surfaces ; we 
fail to take the inner mind into account. 
Quimby's great step was the one which took him 
beyond the realm of psychical influences on the 
plane where atmospheres meet and mingle to 
find a way to conquer such influences in so far 
as they prove undesirable. 

Had Quimby merely rendered his mind open 
to the feelings and inner states of his patients he 
would have been no better off than those of us 
who are tempted and have no victorious faith 
by which to overcome temptation. Indeed he 
would have been in a worse state, for he was be- 
coming more sensitive and he readily took on the 
feelings of his patients. But Quimby had come 
to the conclusion that the real man or self behind 
the atmosphere and what we now call the subcon- 
scious mind is spirit, is of finer quality and 
greater power than any mental atmosphere. 
His writings do not tell us by what steps he 
arrived at the conclusion that the spirit is in- 
wardly open to the divine presence and is subject 
to guidance. One can only infer that he had grown 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 63 


into open vision to some extent. He learned 
from actual experience that clairvoyant intui- 
tion is not merely a mental or human power, but 
that spiritual light illuminating the human spirit 
discloses what is divine and what is true. More- 
over, Quimby was not, so those friends assure us 
who knew him best, a man who naturally attri- 
buted power to himself. He seems to have 
grown quite naturally into the belief, then the 
conviction, that the human spirit is interiorly 
open to the divine wisdom and that by giving 
heed to the signs and conditions of this openness 
the spirit can become more receptive and be 
more truly guided. 

Consequently the discovery of mental atmos- 
pheres and the plight of a person in inner dis- 
tress and spiritual need was merely incidental to 
the seeking of divine guidance to set the sufferer 
free. But this was not all. For if a sufferer's 
need voices itself as it were by means of vibra- 
tions sent out by the sphere which the person 
carries, the one who has learned to discern an- 
other's spirit can also send forth power from 
within. That is to say, the spiritual healer, 
learning that man is a spirit, also learns to talk 
directly to the spirit in the patient. This con- 
verse of spirit with spirit is not mere thought- 
transference in the sense of the mere transmis- 
sion of words or sentiments, for the patient may 

64 The Open Vision 

not be aware of the process at all, may not receive 
any thoughts, since the interchange takes place 
subconsciously. Furthermore the spiritual 
healer does more than simply to turn away from 
the patient's atmosphere, having discerned it, and 
from the negative thoughts, fears, haunting 
mental pictures and the like. He also rises 
above the level of these in a state of interior open- 
ness to divine power and divine wisdom, as one 
does when seeking inward peace and poise. The 
mental process consists in part of discerning the 
mental pictures that haunt and trouble the spirit, 
and of dwelling upon a higher grouping of men- 
tal pictures expressing the divine ideal. Thus 
there is a spiritual pictographic process which is 
said to efface the troublesome pictures which 
beset the patient's mind. In Quimby's view of 
the matter the efficiency lies in the divine power 
or wisdom, not in the mere process of picturing 
the ideal. The process is a means to an end. 

Quimby's discovery concerning the influence 
of mental spheres led the way to this more im- 
portant step, that spirit can converse with spirit 
by the direct inner way. For if atmospheres can 
meet and mutually influence so that there is 
"mental contagion," the rule of a positive mind 
over a negative one, so that there is a "crowd 
spirit," subconscious or involuntary interchange; 
then spirits can meet one another for still higher 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 65 

^— — ■■■■ « ■■ ■ — ■■ i ■ ■■ ■■' ■ ■■■!■■■■■■ ■■ii..— ■■ ■ mi wmmm m i— w^— — ■■■■! ■ 

reasons. If one is receptive, expectant, in faith ; 
the other intuitively alert, seeking the divine 
guidance, dynamically strong and affirmative, 
the result will obviously be very different from 
that of a mere mingling of spheres. To Quimby 
the central interest lay in the spiritual power 
given him to quicken another and better state in 
the patient. For our present purposes the sig- 
nificance lies in the fact that Quimby was led to 
one of the great typical interpretations of psychi- 
cal experience by a simple direct road which any 
one might follow. 

Quimby did not stop with the conclusion that 
the inner mind is the clue to the nature of disease 
and its cure. Having seen that the inner or 
spiritual man is the real man, and that man as a 
spirit possesses "spiritual senses," as he called 
them, of which clairvoyance is one, he went fur- 
ther and concluded that spiritual life is real life, 
that man is a spirit living in the spiritual world 
now. He looked upon death as relatively exter- 
nal and incidental. He spoke of death in fact 
as no more of a change inwardly than would 
occur if he should move from his home in Belfast 
across Penobscot Bay to Castine, that is, a 
change within the same world, the real world in 
which we always live. At the time of his own 
death his spirit was partly separated from the 
flesh for a brief period and when he regained con- 

66 The Open Vision 

sciousness for an even briefer period he told a 
member of the family that he had proved his 
theory of death. That was his last message to 
the world. 

What inner experience reveals to us then, 
from this point of view, is the real life we are all 
the while living although unaware of it. The 
spirit belongs to and lives this real life. Clair- 
voyance, like other interior powers, simply re- 
veals one of our permanent faculties, in contrast 
with the physical senses which we use only while 
in the flesh. We all possess these the real powers 
of our true self. We might all learn to listen 
within, discover what manner of being the self is 
and become open to spiritual guidance. It is 
this true self which God would have us realize. 
Our real life is constituted for it. But through 
ignorance we have been misled by opinions and 
appearances. We have been unaware that there 
is a true science of life, freedom, health and 
happiness, a science which all might acquire and 
which we might verify by the New Testament 
as divine, if we were able to see the spiritual wis- 
dom which Jesus taught and by which he wrought 
works of healing. 

Note that according to this simpler theory of 
the spiritual life each of us is immediately in 
touch with God as the immanent source of our 
life and our wisdom. Without any ado then we 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 67 

may seek the inner guidance. Here Quimby's 
view coincides with the belief prevailing among 
the Society of Friends or Quakers that the in- 
ward guidance is "the light of Christ within the 
soul." Intuitive power is a kind of God-sense 
in us. It pertains to the whole of the inner life. 
It opens us to the divine presence without inter- 
mediary. It leads, not to quest for spirits or to 
conversation with them, but to desire to be led 
by the universal Spirit. By its beneficent light 
the heart with its longings is revealed. In that 
light a sufferer's needs are manifest, Through 
that light problems may be solved. 

Whatever objections might be made to this 
view by those who hold a different theology, it 
plainly has a very great advantage. To test it 
one need not accept much by way of belief, but 
one may begin forthwith to look for signs that 
the inner life is prior and more real, one may put 
one's spirit into a certain attitude to see what 
follows. There is surely a strong reason for 
seeking communion with God by a simple nor- 
mal method devoid of mysticism and symbolism, 
for the sake of practical needs and spiritual ser- 
vice, that spirit may talk with spirit. All that 
one need look for at first is signs of intuition. 
One's own experience will afford the clue. At 
the same time the growth of this inner power 
with the disclosure of what is real in the inner 

68 The Open Vision 

life will lead the way for the understanding of 
all psychical experiences on a simple basis. One 
stands in need of such a directly practical prin- 
ciple in order to clarify the way in that region 
of our nature where it is so easy for the undis- 
cerning to be misled. 

To adopt this view that the power is vested in 
the self, that there are spiritual senses that may 
become open and active, is not to look outside to 
any extent but to learn all that one can about the 
inner mind and its disclosures. One learns, for 
example, that the mind functions in two ways or 
on two levels. One may be externally absorbed, 
giving heed to appearances, moving with the 
crowd, meditating on the opinions of men and 
subject to their spheres. Or one may be in- 
wardly alert, open, clairvoyant, receptive, in a 
state to seek divine guidance. To become some- 
what familiar with the contrast between outer and 
inner states, is to be able to disconnect one's con- 
sciousness from the ordinary run of mental states 
and connect it with the higher or inner activity. 
One is only partly oneself on the lower level, 
hence one is open to influences of various sorts. 
One begins at last to be one's whole true self on 
the higher level. In any time of need one may 
lift the mind to the higher plane and seek guid- 
ance, quickening power. 

When spirit speaks with spirit the whole being 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 69 

speaks. When the purpose in view is the spirit- 
ual healing of another person, the objective is to 
make that person "every whit whole." To be 
"whole" is to be in the affirmative attitude, sound, 
sane, strong. But to be merely functioning on 
the lower level of mental life is to be in consider- 
able degree negative, subject to many kinds of 

The same receptivity in us which when open 
to spheres may draw us into difficulties and 
troubles might be dedicated to spiritual uses. 
The same powers in us which participate in psy- 
chical experiences, desirable or undesirable, in vi- 
sions, mystical transports or conversations with 
spirits, are active in what we call religious experi- 
ence when we commune with God. The form 
which inner experience takes depends upon the 
type of mind of the recipient. If emotional, 
tending to employ symbolical imagery, or calmly 
intellectual, or whatever the type, our inner na- 
ture contributes the mental forms. The belief 
enters in, too, the theology or mysticism, the 
theosophy or spiritism, or the reasoned philoso- 
phy. In Quimby's case there was one main in- 
terest, so the intellectual reaction was simple, 
and we see that he was very directly led by what 
to him was divine wisdom. 

His mind did not lead him into the consider- 
ation of "auras" and "planes," besetting spirits 

70 The Open Vision 

and deterrent forces, because he was directly and 
steadily interested in the welfare of the sick. He 
did not dwell on or cultivate psychical power as 
such, because he was absorbed in using it for 
spiritual ends. His experience did not lead him 
into psychical bye-paths, because life was too full 
of opportunities to help people spiritually. 
Nevertheless, he was all the while using his own 
psychical powers or senses and growing in aware- 
ness of them. The views he adopted are deeply 
suggestive, because they indicate a straight way 
through the difficulties. 

To bring the whole view before us, we need 
to assume that our inner powers tend to develop 
or unfold and merely await occasions for quick- 
ening. By nature we all possess powers looking 
forward to the open vision. By nature, birth, 
inheritance from God, we are spirits dwelling in 
the eternal spiritual world. It is natural and 
normal for spirit to talk with spirit. We might 
all have been led from earliest childhood by 
spiritual perception or intuition. One power 
would have led to another in an orderly purpose- 
ful way. We would have found our needs met. 
Our outward life would then have very plainly 
corresponded with the inner. Each of us would 
have depended first and last on the spiritual 
senses, and we would have come to take the sub- 
conscious mind and the realm of spheres as mat- 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 71 

ters of course. Life would have found us seek- 
ing our kind, doing our work in affinity with 
those in affinity with us. We would have poss- 
essed such health, freedom and power as few of 
us now dream of, or which we contemplate in 
ideal terms merely. 

But ignorant of all this, surrounded by things 
which enticed and absorbed us, we became im- 
mersed in outward things, and the whole conven- 
tional system tended to keep us imprisoned, does 
so still. Even to talk about intuition is to be 
called * unscientific," and to claim that all men 
can acquire it is in the world at large to be called 
a fool. We assign the genius to a favored re- 
gion where he at least is supposed to be inspired. 
To work our way back to recognition of the 
open vision we need to begin anew without creeds 
or doctrines, taking seriously the best spiritual 
teachings in the world. 

In our ignorance, too, we have overlooked the 
language of correspondence, the speech of the 
spirit. We have been repelled by all that passes 
current as spiritism, and so have failed to recog- 
nize in our innate power of speaking in the spirit 
to another spirit the universal of all language, 
the interchange of soul with soul. Yet if 
Quimby is right we all live in a measure in a 
world of thought-interchange, and we might as 
well learn to know it and to seek the best. 


72 The Open Vision 

Whatever is real in spiritism is doubtless as harm- 
less and intelligible as that which is real in ordin- 
dinary thought-interchange. Much depends on 
what we are open to, what we are looking for. 
The spiritual world is brought very near us in- 
deed when we realize that we already use its lan- 
guage when speaking to the heart of another, in 
our genuineness, our honesty, sincerity, whenever 
we send out the best that we believe and in a 
spirit of love, good fellowship and cheer. It is 
brought nearer with each discovery concerning 
this spiritual speech and the way in which it takes 
place. Life is rendered simple by the whole 
venture, for we do away with the intermediaries, 
we turn directly to the higher level of our true 

Let us say in brief, in interpretation of this 
view, that there is an impetus from within and 
an impetus from without, that the spirit is drawn 
in two directions. We well know what the 
promptings to outward life are, we are all the 
while struggling to get free from them, those of 
us who love spiritual things. But suppose we 
say that the impetus from within is creative, that 
the spirit is so guided, protected, strengthened 
and sustained that in the affirmative attitude it 
tends to create circumstances instead of becom- 
ing subject to it. We realize that there is a 
movement of the divine life from within outward, 

The Awakening of Psychical Power 73 

to carry us on into spiritual self-expression and 
service. What is called guidance is part of that 
impetus from within. What is called the psy- 
chical in so far as the psychical is good and 
desirable comes under this guidance. It is 
the impetus from within which supplies the 
motive power. This impetus tends to bring 
to us the conditions, and the opportunities 
which we need. It tends to bring all things into 
correspondence and harmony. Our part is to 
think with it, will with it, move with it, live from 
it. This gives us the needed standard. Into 
the spiritual light within our souls we may lift 
every need and every problem. In that clear 
light we may come to see what is human, what 
divine; what is merely mental, what spiritual; 
what from without, what from within. The es- 
sential is that each man should seek it and be 
tested by it for himself. This was the practical 
spiritual result Mr. Quimby was led to by merely 
following his own guidance wherever it led, but 
also, as some of us would add, because the time 
had come for the return to the inner vision. His 
experience shows that one may push through to 
that vision without in any way becoming in- 
volved in spiritism. It suggests that we need 
above all else to grow in intuition or inner spirit- 
ual perception. Granted this, we may be able 
to turn to the Bible, as did Quimby when his 

74 The Open Vision 

experiences and insights afforded the clue, as 
the open book of man's spiritual progress on 
earth. Mr. Quimby's teaching is also interesting 
and suggestive in view of the fact that his use of 
spiritual power without mediumship or spiritism, 
set the example for all types of mental and New- 
Thought healers. 1 

iSee "The History of the New Thought Movement," New 
York, 1919. 



Oun inquiry has brought us to the point where 
we have gained light on the communications of 
spirit with spirit. Psychical research has af- 
forded us a clue to the pictographic process of 
transmission. Mr. Quimby's investigations led 
by another road to knowledge of a similar pro- 
cess through the experience of spiritual healing. 
Quimby found among other undesirable contents 
of the mind of a person in spiritual need mental 
pictures associated with the inner trouble. His 
process of spiritual realization consisted in part 
of the substitution of a better series of mental 
pictures in place of those forming the old asso- 
ciation. This pictographic transmission was not 
the whole process by any means, but we are 
helped toward an understanding of his curative 
speech from spirit to spirit, if we take our clue 
from this process. What we now need is a way 
of thinking about the actual process of trans- 
mission, that is, the means of dynamic communi- 
cation, the inner efficiency. 

Of all recent books purporting to contain com- 
munications from the other world, Basil King's 


76 The Open Vision 

"The Abolishing of Death" has the most to con- 
tribute in this connection. The author has much 
to say about the entirely normal simple way in 
which Jennifer, the writer in this case, has re- 
ceived the automatically produced messages. 
The book helps to make clear the step beyond 
planchette, the ouija-board, and all other sim- 
ilar means, especially beyond mediumship in all 
forms. It gives one the impression that while 
mediumship has served its purpose in scientific 
experiment, it would be best now to give it up. 
This would mean a step beyond ordinary psy- 
chical research. 

Thus the communicating spirit, Henry Tal- 
bot, is quoted as saying that "spiritualism is a 
sincere search for truth, but directed into the 
wrong channels. . . . Appearances and voices 
make use of the coarser senses, while this method 
— that of writing — appeals to that which is most 
divine in man, intelligence, and the divine passion 
of aspiration." 

Of the mediums Henry Talbot says, "They are 
passive instruments in our hands, and can be 
possessed by different people; but we are not 
accustomed to that way of communicating and 
do not like it. It is often misleading for we have 
not learned the laws." He finds in spiritualism 
a feeling after God, emphasizes the desire to 
seek communication, but strongly advises against 

Spiritual Speech 77 

consulting mediums. Of distinguished men on 
our plane who are going to mediums he says: 
"They must be persuaded to use other channels 
as soon as possible. They get satisfaction; but 
it is not in the best way. It is better than no 
way; but it is like a long-distance connection 
compared with a quiet talk. . . . Mediums 
should be discouraged from using their gifts in 
their usual way, and should try to write. This 
would do away with the accompanying physical 
effect of their trances, and with the mystery and 
awesomeness which surround their interviews. 
To that we are opposed, as all communication 
should be simple, natural, and in the light." 

Advising still further, this spirit speaks of 
spirituality, or "the aspiration of the soul as ex- 
pressed by the intellect," as a means which can- 
not fail to establish contact with those in the 
spiritual world desiring to help. Spiritual 
thoughts, he teaches, are in harmony with God's 
creation, and "are transmitted quickly by the 
waves of rhythm." The natural language of the 
universe being "thought-exchange," all can ac- 
quire it, and in our thought-lives we already 
possess the motor, the dynamic means of com- 
munication. Thought, in fact, is practically 
synonymous with force as he uses the term, and 
rhythm is the means by which thought operates, 
rhythm is the motion with which the universe is 
alive, the basic harmonious principle. 

78 The Open Vision 

Putting this thought in his own language, Mr. 
King says, "Whether we know it or not — and in 
the incalculable majority of cases we do not 
know it — our thoughts are perpetually travelling 
on the rhythmic waves. These waves are living 
with a form of life we can hardly comprehend. 
They are always bringing us mental and spirit- 
ual food; they are always carrying mental and 
spiritual food from us to others. The thought 
in your mind is borne to another mind when you 
have no suspicion that any action has taken place. 
The thought in another mind is wafted to yours 
when you may believe that it originated in your- 
self. It has often been observed that similar 
impulses become manifest in widely separated 
directions all at once." 

That is, Mr. King thinks that rhythm as the 
universal of all speech may be "the first expres- 
sion of Creative Mind." If so, we have direct 
light on the significant fact that different minds 
in various parts of the world make the same dis- 
covery at about the same time. It does not 
follow that intelligence is always required to be- 
come open to these waves of rhythm, for being 
universal even the animals are open to them. 
"Beings that we generally estimate as low in the 
scale have an intimate sense of this rhythm, while 
man has lost command of it. Insects, fishes, 
birds, all vibrate to it, with a consequent height- 

Spiritual Speech 79 

ening of their powers." Mediums, Henry Tal- 
bot tells us, have kept this sensibility to rhythm, 
their perception of it has not been blunted, how- 
beit they have not the intelligence to control and 
direct it. "They represent in some degree what 
God intended us all to be." The infant still 
possesses this sense in some measure, but educa- 
tion blunts it. Intuition, tact, sympathy, in so 
far as we still possess these powers, are indica- 
tions of this sense of rhythm. People who are 
able to read another's mind also have it in some 
degree. What is needed is cultivation of this 
power through aspiration, a desire for the good. 
If we possess the same sense of rhythm we poss- 
ess at least potential spirituality, and by recog- 
nizing it we might more intelligently seek harm- 
ony. A person with both a sense of rhythm 
and conscious spirituality has a distinct advan- 

The sense of rhythm being applied in all 
thought-exchange, "since the thoughts pass on 
the waves of rhythm from soul to soul," we are 
next told that love regarded as inclusive of all 
good is the only vehicle of transmission. Wire- 
less telegraphy gives us a direct idea of the trans- 
mission, so does absent treatment as practised by 
present-day healers. So-called malicious animal 
magnetism would be an instance of a jarring or 
interruption, since according to Henry Talbot 

80 The Open Vision 

"nothing evil can travel over the waves of rhythm, 
since that would be inharmonious, and thus 
would not accord with the unity of the whole. 
Evil would be powerless to progress." What- 
ever we might think of this view of evil, we find 
in what is said about rhythm a very direct appeal 
to recover it. This appeal is the very heart of 
Talbot's message. 

Mr. King suggests that were we aware of this 
law of rhythm as the universal of all language, 
informed too concerning "the perfect naturalness 
of the intercommunion, and more harmonious 
with God, the communion might come to us as 
easily as singing to a bird. Knowledge of 
thought-transference directly helps us to this 
priceless sense. Indeed, thought-transference 
is spoken of as "the first heavenly sense," and it 
can "also be the last earthly one. It is the 
highest reach of this plane, just as it is the point 
to which that plane comes farthest down. In it, 
therefore, the earthly and the heavenly find a 
common meeting-ground." 

Originally potential in us all, the sense of 
rhythm was possessed actively in ages when peo- 
ple were more elemental. The power was lost 
in proportion as men became self-conscious. 
With the growing knowledge that their thoughts 
were so frequently evil, men closed their minds 
against other minds, and for the same reason 

Spiritual Speech 81 

found other minds closed against theirs. The 
loss of the faculty was thus due to fear. 

To regain this power confidence must be re- 
established. We should begin by believing this 
recovery possible. This is a rather large under- 
taking, since the majority of us do not believe it 
to be possible. "The mind that was shut ages 
ago finds it difficult now to open. . . . We are 
like sightless men told that with a little trouble 
they could see, and who refuse to take the pains." 
But Henry Talbot assures us that practice, when 
we have realized the opportunity, comes easily. 
"The most difficult problem is to realize the 

Our evil thoughts are of course obstacles to be 
overcome. If we would cultivate this power by 
thought-exchange between this plane and the 
next, we must send out only such thoughts as 
have been purified, while those there have only 
purified thoughts to send us. It is said that all 
our good and kindly impulses with regard to 
those who have preceded us to the next plane 
have already reached their object. Mourning, 
grief, doubt, always hinder. Unwittingly we 
have cut ourselves off from those whom we would 
reach. Even honest doubt is put down as an 
obstacle. This book everywhere teaches the 
value of the believing attitude. We are taught 
that intercourse with the plane next above us is 

82 The Open Vision 

part of our intercourse with God. Separation 
from our loved ones is no part of the divine plan. 

Connecting this teaching about rhythm with 
what the Bible tells us about "the open vision," 
we have an illuminating clue as to the nature of 
that vision, and speech with the angels is made 
more plausible. "All through the Old Testa- 
ment," writes Henry Talbot, "you can mark the 
degree of harmony and sensitiveness to rhythm 
by the communications with God. This has 
very rarely been the case since the days of estab- 
lished ecclesiasticism. Joan of Arc has been the 
most marked instance of comparatively modern 

The trouble has been that we permitted the 
clergy to be our "religious brokers." We have 
not communicated directly with God. "That 
is why so many simple, uneducated souls acquire 
through rhythm a wisdom which is never ac- 
corded to the so-called wise. Knowledge has 
obstinate human attributes which at times pre- 
vent its use." "Simplicity," Basil King tells us, 
"directness, the lighted mind, the open heart, 
something akin to the receptive trust of those 
who are 'converted and become as little chil- 
dren' would seem, then, to be the necessary gifts 
of all who wish to speak this wonderful thought- 
language and hear it in response." 

We learn that while spirits of lower intelli- 

Spiritual Speech 83 

gence will speak through mediums, others a little 
more advanced use planehette and the ouija- 
board to attract attention. These are "easily 
manipulated, but do not lend themselves to the 
expression of coherent thoughts, unless the me- 
dium be very gifted. When that is the case, 
handwriting would be better. Then would come 
direct thought-exchange." 

This book, unlike "The Seven Purposes," has 
has little to say about deterrent forces and noth- 
ing about the malign influences and positive ef- 
forts to interfere which Margaret Cameron 
encountered. Henry Talbot says definitely, 
"There are no evil spirits." Instead, he teaches 
that "there is a missing link somewhere which 
leads to messages being garbled. When that 
happens, we give warning to those who can re- 
ceive it not to believe the apparent words. It 
is an imperfection in transmission which by per- 
severance can be overcome. . . . The imperfec- 
tions arise from the human element. Either the 
transmitter becomes fatigued, or allows his or her 
personality to intrude, or is overcome by doubt 
or strong desire. The necessary requisite for 
good transmission is to keep the mental track 
cleared and allow our message to run down it." 

In a most significant statement this communi- 
cating spirit says, "It is only when man resigns 
the direction of his mind that he becomes rhyth- 

84 The Open Vision 

" — ■ 

mical." This suggests that the great trouble with 
us is self-assertion, the desire to control for our 
own benefit. This produces discord, breaks the 
rhythm. We must become aware of the states 
in us that interfere, and seek to cultivate those 
that accord with what we are able to learn con- 
cerning spiritual speech. 

We may take our clue from what is here told 
us concerning rhythm and endeavor to complete 
the idea of spiritual speech, putting together 
hints from various sources. If we were to listen 
to such speech in its purity in the spiritual world 
we would doubtless find that it is what Sweden- 
borg calls "interior speech," and takes place both 
by conversations through the interchange of 
ideas and by the transmission of representations 
or symbols. Thus ideas represented in symboli- 
cal form might almost be said to be visible, and 
capable of conveying more meaning to the spirit 
than could be conveyed or even suggested of 
words as we employ them. Modifications of 
spiritual light would then communicate ideas and 
meanings in the most graphic manner, while the 
real inner feeling would be conveyed rhythmic- 
ally. With life thus speaking from heart to 
heart, life appealing to life, spiritual speech might 
be called "living speech." In listening to it and 
following the imagery representing it, spirits 
would perceive both what is in the idea and what 

Spiritual Speech 85 

is in the heart of the speaker, what the end or 
purpose is and by what motives it is conveyed. 
Where the whole spirit thus speaks, words, im- 
ages, and rhythms would harmoniously express 
what our own languages on earth only imper- 
fectly convey. This speech from the whole 
spirit, with no motives concealed, no self-interest 
marring the rhythm, would be the universal of 
all true language. Hence a spirit speaking with 
a fellow-spirit in the spiritual world or with a 
spirit in the flesh would be addressing the spirit 
in his native tongue while really uttering words 
or conveying rhythms intelligible to all. With 
the words and symbols perfectly expressing the 
inner intent, there would be perfect correspond- 
ence, each listener would perceive in accordance 
with his own response. 

To speak this universal language would not 
of course be to reduce all language to monoton- 
ous cadences, but to add marvellously to the 
varied intonations which we know in part when 
human speech is lyrical and sweet. Indeed the 
language of rhythms and representations cor- 
responding to interior ideas and the whole spirit 
of the speaker would be the first adequate lang- 
uage, it would give voice to the infinite variety, 
the endless shades of meaning of individuality. 
Just as we now know to some extent what part of 
a given country a person comes from by his ac- 

86 The Open Vision 

cent, or even what city or town he lives in by 
peculiarities of intonation and the use of local 
phrases, so whole assemblages of spiritual beings 
united in work and idea might speak in cadences 
peculiar to them and might be so known. 

We already have some inklings of what such 
speech might be. We know the language of 
goodness on earth, the speech of one whose whole 
being expresses devotion to good works, to what 
is called "the life of charity" in the sense of 
entire consecration. We have listened to men 
whose ringing voice, whose purity of tone ex- 
pressed exceptional purity and power in the in- 
ward life. We have listened to women whose 
gentleness of speech, whose tenderness told us 
of a life unsurpassingly beautiful. There is a 
certain accordance between thought and life in 
such a person's utterance. We cannot be mis- 
taken. We realize that this is reality. By con- 
trast we note the discordant tones of those in 
whom heart and head are not yet one. We learn 
to read even more in the intonation than in that 
other representation of inner language, changing 
facial expression. We all speak "the language 
of feeling" to some extent. A mere hint or sug- 
gestion, a hand-clasp, a look, a gesture, admits 
us to the heart or meaning behind. One who 
has stood on "holy ground" tells us this by in- 
timations which require no words, if we too have 

Spiritual Speech 87 

stood there, or if we have at least discerned 
enough afar to have some inkling of the wondrous 
landscape lying beyond. If you and I have suf- 
fered together we give that intelligence to each 
other by a mere reference or reminder. Neither 
one could describe the experience or even tell 
another that it holds such meaning. We are 
scarcely aware of its significance ourselves. Yet 
tacitly we suggest that we know and have under- 
stood. We have both been there. We have both 
lived. And life speaks the language of rhythm, 
heart vibrates to heart. Moreover, music and 
poetry as well as the drama convey these deeper 
meanings to those with listening ears. Music 
speaks when the tongue itself is dumb. 

Spiritual speech is of course from the interior 
memory and appeals to this heart-memory in an- 
other. We are scarcely aware that we possess 
such a memory, yet we might infer that we have 
it from our conviction that identity survives after 
death and with it power of recognition of one 
another, vivid consciousness on our part of what 
we were on earth and how we lived. We might 
gather many hints of its existence if we would 
seek them. We know interiorly, for example, 
what we have lived through, even though we have 
never found a friend so congenial that we can 
bare our heart's inmost feeling. With sympa- 
thetic souls we can disclose the true intent or 

88 The Open Vision 

motive and we do this by letting life itself speak 
through us from within. What appears on the 
surface may have little to do with what we now 
disclose from within as the real effect upon the 
soul, the real struggle through which we have 
passed. In the course of a lifetime we have all 
met at least two or three to whom we could speak 
from the interior memory. Granted more and 
more before whom we would appear as the true 
full self we really are at heart, there would then 
be appeal to the inner memory as the usual thing, 
and everybody would take this memory for 

The open vision into things human is nothing 
less than this spiritual language. The speaking 
of heart to heart is part of the vision. It puts 
us in intuitive touch with the soul. Such lan- 
guage was not given us "to conceal thought," as 
we say of our polite and formal speech on earth, 
but to convey thought in all the richness of its 
reality. Granted the openness of the spiritual 
world where motives are laid bare and the inmost 
meanings are seen, there would be nothing to 
conceal thought, no reason for trying to hide it 
behind elusive phrases and hypocrisy. The 
guilty would shrink from the mere idea of such 
a language. The unduly sensitive, shy, self- 
centered and selfish would also shrink from it. 
But the genuine lover of truth, of God and man, 
of goodness and beauty, would welcome it. 

Spiritual Speech 89 

We already know that deeds speak above 
words, for or against. We know that genuine 
acts truthfully disclose the soul. Beings possess- 
ing angelic insight would not need to be told but 
would read our hearts in our deeds. If we have 
guardian angels with us, they would merely need 
to know our motives, discern the ends. The rest 
would be mere detail. What we really care for 
after all is thus to be credited with what we actu- 
ally are, all appearances having been put aside, 
all pretension overcome. We like utter frank- 
ness even though it seems to be inexpedient in this 
mundane sphere. We do not wish to mount on 
borrowed power or claim to be what we are not. 

Those people who are "honest with themselves," 
as we say, who admit what they truly are in entire 
sincerity, have already come very near knowing 
what spiritual speech is. We know it in part as 
a visible language, and in part as the language 
of silence. Sometimes it seems almost drowned 
out by the noise of our gross external speech. To 
discern the interior language and to grow in it we 
need to s.till the outer senses and listen within. 
In some measure we might learn habitually to 
listen within though busily occupied without. 
Listening within, seeking "the inward light," as 
the Friends call it, praying to "the Father which 
seeth in secret,' ' — all these are varied ways of 
expressing the same idea. Unable to tell all 

90 The Open Vision 

that we mean by it we turn to some of the great 
hymns and psalms which suggest it. When we 
read the twenty-third Psalm, for instance, we 
both feel the rhythm and perceive the imagery: 

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he 
leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth 
my soul." 

Again, we apprehend another rhythm in such 
lines as these: "There is a river, the streams 
whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy 
place of the tabernacle of the most High. God 
is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: 
God shall help her, and that right early." We 
seem both to hear and to feel the very pulsations 
of heaven itself in these utterances. The twenty- 
third Psalm we can visualize in a measure, as we 
see men and women walking along the pathway 
of life and invited to turn into pleasant vales by 
still waters. But when our thought is lifted 
above to the city of God our imagery can scarcely 
follow, and we feel rather the broad sweep of 
the lines: "There is a river, the streams whereof 
shall make the city of God." We can hardly 
realize what must have been the vision of the 
psalmist when he was quickened to give expres- 
sion to such an utterance. But we are not by 
any means left without a clue. We already ap- 
prehend in some degree the very language of 
heaven itself. 



The reading of books on psychical experiences 
and messages purporting to come from the great 
beyond reminds us of the state of mind which 
some of us are thrown into when people under- 
take to discern signs of character in one's hand- 
writing, lines of fate in the palm, or in other 
ways to tell one's fortune. There may be ele- 
ments of truth in each of these descriptions, and 
an astrological reading of character may also be 
partly true. One may combine what one person 
says with what another pronounces and arrive 
at results of some value. But unless a man 
knows his own character far better than even the 
most persuasive person can read it he has no 
means of telling how far the reading is true. 

The average book is little better than a prog- 
nostication which leaves the mind in doubt. One 
may conclude in each case that there is a core 
of reality in the collection of messages, but one 
is always minded to ask, What faith or phil- 
osophy goes with this element of truth to develop 
it into an acceptable whole? As in the case of 
a reading of one's character which includes a 


92 The Open Vision 

prophecy that might suggest fear, one must 
guard against taking it too seriously. Ordinar- 
ily there is no sure principle in the book itself 
to show how far one may follow it. If sincere 
the writer is likely to admit a certain doubt 
whether to accept and publish the message. One 
must seek guiding light elsewhere. If the book 
be put into one's hands for a purpose, one may 
submit its teachings to the same tests which one 
makes use of in meeting life in general. Every- 
thing depends, for us, upon ideas previously ac- 
cepted as true from other sources. 

"Interwoven," for example, a book which pur- 
ports to contain letters from a son to his mother 
given through a medium during ten years after 
the son's death yields no principle by which the 
truth it may contain can be discerned. In itself 
it is most confusing, abounding as it does in ideas 
which surely cannot be true. Even if we com- 
pare one of its teachings, the theory of reincar- 
nation, with the teachings of other books and find 
apparent confirmation elsewhere, for example, 
in "Letters from a Living Dead Man," we have 
no assurance ; for in books of still another class one 
reads that this theory is not the true principle 
of progression. Apparently people take over 
into the world of spirits the beliefs which they 
came to adopt while here. While the communi- 
cating spirits are earth-bound they are no more 

Recent Litekatuke 93 

to be followed than we would uncritically follow 
any theorist in the flesh. Each book takes us 
into the world of its own theoretical construction. 
There are types of belief, even national beliefs 
expressed in books claiming to contain wisdom 
from beyond. Thus a writer on spiritism, J. 
Arthur Hill, calls attention to the fact that 
spiritism in France is reincarnationist, while in 
England and the United States on the whole it is 
not. The reason in the case of France is found 
in the fact that an early writer on spiritism, 
Allan Kordec, taught reincarnation. So, he as- 
sures us, spirits communicating in France, regu- 
larly teach reincarnation, while spirits speaking 
in England as regularly deny it. Reincarna- 
tion being in general a theory on which people 
split, one must look for light outside of the litera- 
ture of spiritism. 

On the other hand, when we find writers of 
various schools agreeing that in the other world 
there is no sense of time as we know it we have 
an intelligible clue, for it not only appeals to us 
as true concerning the life of pure spirit, but we 
find it confirmed indirectly in communcations 
concerning mundane events and the future. To 
take such a communication too seriously is to 
find evidence that there really is no awareness 
of time and that we were at fault in proceeding 
on the assumption that a day and hour could 

94 The Open Vision 

be foretold without error. If we were not on 
our guard in reading prophecies purporting to 
speak with confidence concerning future events 
as they may be known in this world, we might 
slip uncritically into belief in foreordination. 
But foreordination is a theory which would need 
to be subjected to critical study quite apart from 
any spiritist prophecy. Such a prophecy might 
be right in its other details, yet wholly fail in 
point of time. Furthermore, one may have seen 
in a wholly different connection that one must en- 
tirely drop our ideas of time in order to think 
philosophically about the spiritual world. We 
must also eliminate our ordinary ideas of space. 
There is remarkable agreement on these points. 
Again, one would need to make allowances to 
some extent for the personal equation and the 
vocation of the person while living on earth. 
Just as the man who was engaged in psychical 
research on earth ostensibly continues the same 
interest and seeks out his former associates in this 
world, using the same terms when communicat- 
ing with them, as Hy slop's book indicates, so 
those of similar interest are drawn together in 
any number of groups. Thus "Interwoven" is 
by a young physician and what he tells in his 
letters to his mother on the basis of his gradually 
awakening experiences in the other world is what 
pertains to his profession and is no more credible 

Recent Literature 95 

than the exposition of any theory by one on earth 
whose views incline toward the fantastic. If on 
the other hand we read in "The Seven Purposes" 
that experience for us mortals is a warfare be- 
tween destructive and constructive forces, and if 
we have learned from other sources that man is 
indeed held in equilibrium between opposing 
forces while in this world, that he may choose be- 
tween them and acquire a prevailing love, we may 
find ideas that are enlightening. The language 
of this book is often philosophical rather than 
spiritual. It does not sound so high a note as 
Basil King's book, "The Abolishing of Death." 
It gives no clear idea of God. It leaves us in 
the realm of purpose. But the personal equa- 
tion does not seriously enter in. It does not turn 
upon the technical interests of any single voca- 
tion, but is concerned with a supposed group of 
enlightened souls who made themselves known to 
a group here. 

Again, in recent books one finds many state- 
ments concerning the great war from the van- 
tage-point of the spiritual world, where motives 
are seen, where the war on earth is regarded as 
part only of that greater warfare which includes 
the struggle of discarnate spirits to impede the 
souls of men in their zeal for goodness. The 
war, we are told in "The Seven Purposes," was 
due to lust of power. As great and hideous as it 

96 The Open Vision 

was, on the spiritual side it signified "the reawak- 
ening of the souls of men." At first, Germany- 
had strong forces on her side. She possessed a 
unity of purpose not realized or attained among 
the Allies. But this was seen to be "the united 
purpose of fear, moving towards destruction, a 
movement which brought its inevitable conse- 
quences as the war drew to a close. Germany- 
was seen as a doomed nation with no ally left on 
her side long before the war on earth reached its 
climax. The only danger on our part lay in a 
weakening of the offsetting purposes which were 
to carry us on to victory. While this contest 
was actually in process the message came, "We 
are your allies, answering your call and inciting 
you to endeavor . . . Every individual among 
you who fails to strive for victory with all his 
strength invites disaster." 

After writing my own book on war-experi- 
ences in France, "On the Threshold of the Spirit- 
ual World," I read for the first time this view 
of the war as supposably seen from the other 
world, and its teachings concerning the war were 
so nearly in accord with what I had been led to 
believe while actually on the ground in France 
that one might have supposed I had taken my 
clue from "The Seven Purposes" and not from 
the war. One cannot help believing that there 
was intimate relation between the forces which 


Recent Literature 97 

brought the war to a close amongst the armies 
actually fighting in France and the forces which 
we read about in this book. In other words, 
the great war must be understood from within in 
accordance with a philosophy of the relationship 
of the two worlds. One may approach this phil- 
osophy by means of a book like "The Seven Pur- 
poses," or one may feel one's way into it by 
mingling with the fighters, alert for every clue 
which may disclose the spirit animating them as a 
whole, feeling the events as it were while they 
are happening, feeling the turning of the tide as 
the Allies attain moral unity and establish a 
balance in favor of the constructive forces. 

One finds still another promising clue in mes- 
sages purporting to come from beyond which as- 
sure us that death is not either the decisive or 
the terrible event it seems to be. Thus "Thy 
Son Liveth," despite its fallacies, helps to break 
down the barriers and to put death in a secondary 
place, as less painful, less significant, and on the 
whole incidental to the spirit's progress from 
plane to plane. In such a book the first experi- 
ences after death are spoken of as natural con- 
sequences of the experiences which prepared the 
way in this world. Turning to the natural 
world, the first desire of those who have "gone 
West" seems to be to clear away the grief and 
sorrow on the part of the loved ones here, that 

98 The Open Vision 

spiritual communion may not be impeded. One 
feels a sense of life rather than of death in such 
writing. The spiritual world is brought nearer. 
This coincides with what one felt in France dur- 
ing the war where, indeed, death had taken on a 
new aspect, where the emphasis was on the life 
that carries on, even beyond the threshold. One 
cannot help believing that both from the point of 
view of individual experiences here and in the 
light of what is real in these messages the spirit- 
ual world has in deepest reality been brought 
nearer our comprehension and our f eeling. Part 
of the meaning of recent messages seems to be 
that we shall come to realize that spiritual power 
has been active in the war, that the war was in- 
deed a sign of spiritual awakening. 

One is impressed also by the fact that our free- 
dom is appealed to and we are asked to partici- 
pate in a struggle by no means decided, despite 
the fact that the end of the war was seen in the 
spiritual world before we knew about the war as 
a whole on earth. There is strong evidence in 
these books that spiritual help is given us here on 
earth in so far as we are ready to respond to it, 
hence that much depends on our choice and ac- 
tion. Whatever we may think of "Raymond," 
"Private Dowding," or any similar book, so far 
as evidences in favor of the survival of a par- 
ticular personality are concerned, we are brought 

Recent Literature 99 

nearer the pathway of relationship between the 
two worlds. The mere events are secondary. 
So are the details, chiefly of interest to those who 
knew the soldiers in question. What concerns 
us is that we are brought nearer the view of life 
which regards it as continuous in spirit, in the 
occupations of those who have gone on before, 
and in the life-processes which connect us. We 
may throw out of account those matters which 
do not interest or appeal to us, and give our 
thought to the primary consideration. 

Even in a confusing book like "Interwoven," 
written long before the war and containing only 
scanty evidences that an occupation begun here 
is pursued with greater intelligence in the other 
life, one finds at least an element of truth. It 
were better to seize upon this than to condemn 
the book outright. We are told, for example, 
that life on earth is seed-life centering about our 
own choices and leading through successive ex- 
periences to a point which prepares us to enter 
one of the lower spheres of the spiritual world. 
Naturally then we are told that will or love is 
the central power in us, while intellect alone is 
dangerous, that is to say, that love which quickens 
feeling so that it becomes "sight." "It only re- 
quires an intense vibration to make all the senses 
rise to equal pulse of sight." We can be drawn 
to be "together in soul with those we love, who are 

100 The Open Vision 

in affinity with us. Mind thus quickened can 
leap over or through anything. It wills itself 
to the one it loves. . . . People must learn to 
love souls and then there will never be loss by 

The teaching of this book narrows down to the 
type of effort we should make in order to draw 
upon the great resources open to us, including 
the help of "plan-angels." "Make little ef- 
forts," it is said, "but not strained ones. An 
effort is a push of the soul. ... A prayer with 
effort is like a flash of lightning. ... A soul 
rises in its needs just as a plant does. . . . Effort 
is the very thing that keeps the needs coming 
... by effort a kind of door is opened. ... It 
is a sure law that effort finally brings the desire. 
. . . Your will is effort sent out in asking." 
"Poverty," we are told, "is lack of effort and 
being afraid to act." The first great need is that 
we should "try to get established, and try to have 
a purpose." 

It is significant to find matters narrowing 
themselves down to the point where each of us 
should begin here and now. Hitherto, our in- 
terests in the spiritual world have often been 
merely intellectual, hence the messages were in- 
tended for our intellectual education. Moreover, 
there were many obstacles to belief. It was 
necessary not only to overcome the old ideas of 

Recent Literature 101 

death and of the resurrection, but to acquaint 
the mind with a way of thinking about the life 
after death apart from the customary notions 
of space and time. Recent books and magazine 
articles have helped us to realize that there now 
is remarkable unanimity on these points in re- 
cent communications coming through various 
channels, namely, to the effect that there is no 
idea of time in the other world as we know it, 
that objects are not in space as we understand 
space but that outward conditions correspond 
with inner, that after death life continues in 
inner things as it went on here, that children grow 
to maturity, that people overcome the appear- 
ance of old age and express the real spirit of 
beauty or youth that is in them, and thus on 
through many ideas now practically taken for 
granted. We need not trouble any longer over 
the crude descriptions that have come to us, as 
if the other life were merely a continuation of 
the externals of this one; we may now proceed 
at once to a definite conception of that life in 
terms of these ideas now common to books of 
varying points of view. 

Narrowing matters down to the response which 
we should make if we take the better teachings 
seriously, we realize that our best effort should 
lead to spiritual cooperation, a response equal 
to the occasion in view of all that is being done 

102 The Open Vision 

for us on the other side. There is a certain 
quality about the better literature of this class 
which affords a clue to the open channel for com- 

For example, note the contrast between the 
ordinary things of this life and the power in the 
messages published in an English periodical a 
few years ago in an article entitled "Three Minds 
and . . ." "Vitality is the thing you need. ... 
The currents are changing the nations, the 
people, the very lands themselves, but only those 
who keep the balance can feel and know it. . . . 
The more vital you let yourselves be, the more 
you spread to the joy of life, the easier it will be 
for me to come. . . . Joy is the key-note of my 
entrance. When you are swallowed in the great 
life you will not feel the small one. You are like 
children looking through peep-holes at the uni- 
verse; reality flows by you unheeded. . . . On 
you life dawns by slow degrees, as, looking up- 
ward . . . you see the sunshine. . . . 

"Let changes come and fear not; he who fears 
change cannot step forth to universal gather- 
ings. Humans fear change, as limpets to their 
rocks cling tightly. Life fears no change, for 
life is onward pressing and remakes itself. . . . 
Meet changes as they come. . . . The world 
moves on by rhythm ; by rhythm it is swung . . ." 

Such statements give us contrast indeed, lift- 

Recent Literature 103 

ing our spirits to that higher level where, looking 
beyond all change to its cause, we think in terms 
of rhythm, whose "measure is set by Him who 
sent" beings forth "to do His mighty will." In 
ignorance of this causality, human beings are 
said to scratch in turmoil, rushing headlong here 
and there. Whether or not we follow all that 
the communicating spirit says, we can hardly 
fail to note the majestic sweep of vision with the 
glimpse it gives of things eternal : "In that great 
world where changes are stability, I swing in 
vast untrammelled movements ... I touch you 
all — a breath from reality. . . .You speak of 
union, but you do not know what union is. 
Union is strength to hold, and strength to fly 
apart and shatter. . . . And love is strength to 
hold, and strength to rive apart. . . . Great 
sweeps of life go round you, feel them ... and 
you are out," that is, free. 

These communications also suggest with great 
emphasis the value of silent meditation: "Keep 
still. All is quiet, and the region of great still- 
ness is upon you. The silence calls, and speaks 
with her great voice, and power is with you. 
... In the great silence have I heard the voice 
say, Come! . . . And silence, which is the echo 
of the world-song, contains all speech, all move- 
ment, and all energy. And out of silence grows 
the active soul, nourished by harmony, content 

104 The Open Vision 

to stretch its roots through space . . . with the 
silence of the soul ye first shall hear the great 
gods' silence. And when ye hear the silence, on 
your ears shall break the song, the song of all 
eternity. In that vast universe where now I 
stand, free and untrammelled, I seek to make 
you feel the sweep of pulsing cosmic breath, and 
mighty thronging movement. But, humans, if 
ye would reach and hear by silence, look up and 
out beyond the clatter of your little lives, and 
gain the silence. The loves and frets and jars 
of earth, so real to you, are nothing — such petty 
whorls within a whirl of life beginning small, yet 
stretching far, ringing through space unending." 
We seem to hear a voice speaking from a 
greater vantage point of reality in such lines. 
We are impressed by the power of the appeal 
when we read such an invitation as this: "Enter 
the hushed spaces of the twilight that precedes 
the dawn, and listen. . . . Listen to the calling 
voices of the universe. Blend with the hurry- 
feet of mighty movement. Into the hushed 
spaces of your souls swings the thrilling mo- 
ment." One is eager indeed to leave what is 
called "the measuring-tape" of the human mind 
by which we ordinarily judge, and "set out with 
me a step beyond the confines," that is, gain the 
sweep of this encompassing spirit which sees so 

Recent Literature 105 

t— — — — — — — — mmm^mm m ^— m ■ !■■■■■■■■■ ■■— ^— — m— ii— mw^— — ^ 

The point of vantage in these lines reminds 
us of the prayer of the psalmist that the Lord 
would put him in "a large place." It lifts us 
above our minor interests in desire to respond 
when we read, "Arise! and leave your earth- 
sphere. Swing with me into space where star 
calls star, and the great breath sweeps through 
the universe. . . . Humanity lies nearest the 
great heart of Him who gave you being. It 
meets with that vast heart in ever-widening cir- 
cles. He closer joins Himself with those, thus 
comes the choices. . . . He is in very deed in- 
carnate in His universe . . . It is a time for stir; 
humanity lies open to it and powers press 

What is needed, to complete such teachings, 
is a definite idea of the secret place within us, 
that we may know precisely what kind of re- 
ceptivity is incumbent upon us, that we may in- 
vite the highest inflow of spiritual life, and 
be guided through the mists and shadows. 
Hitherto, seekers after light through spirit-com- 
munion have perhaps been too eager for mere 
assurances concerning their own beliefs. They 
have brought too many presuppositions on points 
such as reincarnation or the possibility that spirits 
occupy houses like ours, or we have troubled over 
the presence of "elementals" and the earth-bound 
in the spirit-world. We have sought advice on 

106 The Open Vision 

trivial matters. It has been fairly easy to read 
our own views into messages said to come from 
beyond. Some of us have sought information 
merely because of selfish grief. 

These later utterances summon us to other 
things. They take for granted the laws and con- 
ditions of development through successive stages, 
instead of reincarnation, the fact that our pre- 
vailing love prepares the way for our future ; and 
they advise us to learn as soon as we may what 
forces make for the constructive work which we 
are best fitted to do, that we may be alert, re- 
sponsive, equipped to do our part. There is an 
impressive difference between books which have 
the demands of modern science to maintain and 
those which appeal immediately to the experi- 
ence of the reader to put himself in a certain 
inner attitude, that he may spend no more time 
on mere evidences but may become the recipient 
of a directly vitalizing power. 

In the last analysis what avails with each of us 
is the degree of recognition and cooperation 
which we have attained through actual life. 
Mere theory no longer suffices. Even spiritual 
knowledge of these matters is secondary. One 
who regards himself as a "receptacle of life from 
the Lord" may still remain inefficient in the realm 
of social conduct. Since life is an age-long con- 
test between destructive and constructive forces, 

Recent Literature 107 

such that even the great war was a series of in- 
cidents merely, it is incumbent upon us to make 
the actual dynamic change within, the change 
from neutral or passive states to productive 
states showing by their fruits in the realm of 
concrete deeds that we have proved the law. 

It is no longer a question of mere phenomena. 
The spirit really survives. The ideals of im- 
mortality and the heavens are true. The spirit- 
ual world is real, contiguous with this one, 
approachable. It is the realm of causes, of true 
efficiency, and we can enter into dynamic rela- 
tion with it. What avails is departure from 
merely intellectual matters into a spirit which in- 
vites the powers now offered us, the change from 
knowing to doing whereby we shall manifest our 
conviction that there is but one final source of 

For true effectiveness, one may say, after 
studying these new pronouncements purporting 
to come from the beyond and connecting them 
with the lessons which the war has taught us, 
consists in a certain break with mere conditions, 
tendencies, problems, difficulties; even a break 
from social groups on earth standing for certain 
definite interests and creeds; and a gathering of 
our forces for a higher type of communion and 
of cooperation, surpassing the conventional loyal- 
ties of earth. The war was won by a unity of 

108 The Open Vision 

this sort. These books supply some of the miss- 
ing factors ordinarily unaccounted for, the ac- 
tivities in the spiritual world working to estab- 
lish a new constructive balance. We on earth 
are advised to keep serene even in the presence 
of menacing social conditions as threatening as 
the war itself. For these are parts of the same 
age-long conflict. To doubt, to fear, to hesitate, 
is so far to invite the very forces of disintegra- 
tion which we fear. We must be affirmative 
from first to last. There is an affirmativeness 
which will protect us both in the natural world 
and in the spiritual. The old barriers between 
the natural and the spiritual no longer exist for 
those who realize that, whether here or there, it 
is a question of working for a certain high end. 
This end becomes more clear for those of us who 
are able to read a book like "The Hill of Vision," 
and to see the whole process of social reconstruc- 
tion now under way as a dynamic process due to 
the operation of vitally present causes in the 
spiritual world. 



That a distinct advance has been made in 
messages purporting to come to us from the other 
world is shown by Margaret Cameron's book, 
"The Seven Purposes," in which we have the re- 
sults of cooperation between a supposed group 
of spirits seeking to bring enlightenment to us 
and a number of people in this world respond- 
ing to this effort. Whatever we think of the 
difficulties of communication encountered while 
the messages were given, we may examine the 
subject-matter by itself, testing it as we would 
the teaching of any book supposably the product 
of one mind only. We might find objections to 
the lessons here given and purporting to be the 
wisdom of enlightened minds in the other world. 
Nevertheless we are free to test these lessons for 
whatever they may be worth, putting them in re- 
lation with other utterances ostensibly from a 
similar source. It seems plausible, that there 
should be such concerted effort to bring teach- 
ings to us, and that in the endeavor to bring them 
over to us difficulties and opposition should be 


110 The Open Vision 

What then is the main teaching of this book, 
and what is its value for those who are interpret- 
ing psychical experiences? We ask this ques- 
tion without regard to the customary efforts to 
prove the identity of communicating spirits and 
the personal interests of those to whom the mes- 
sages were given. What concerns us is the point 
of view of life here disclosed, in line with the 
central statement coining from the other side, 
"This life is just a continuation of yours under 
happier conditions." For this proposition sends 
us back to contemplation of life as you and I 
know it here, to see if we can verify this idea of 
continuity of development. 

We are bidden to regard the present life as a 
struggle between forces, not an ultimate strug- 
gle in the sense that the lower may triumph over 
the higher, that is, with uncertainty concerning 
the world at large; but a struggle which may 
have a happy issue, since its purpose is eternal 
progress. All growth is in fact a struggle be- 
tween favorable and adverse forces. This life 
is in every sense of the word the beginning of 
the contest, and our growth will proceed the 
better in the other life if well begun here. All 
growth is according to law and is slow. There 
is no such thing as "punishment' ' in the other 
life, but "only consequences" of our life here. 
With many purposes latent in us at birth, the 

The Seven Purposes 111 

great objective is the development of individu- 
ality. Hence the purport of the struggle is to 
bring us to the point where we may choose be- 
tween these tendencies of our nature, that we 
may attain sufficient unity to acquire a dominant 
purpose. Character results from the purposes 
which we admit to consciousness. Hence very 
much turns upon our consciousness and choice. 
All forces tend to reach us. The negative or de- 
structive do not wait to be invited. They steal 
in insidiously, hindering and seriously interfer- 
ing with us. If we once admit a force to con- 
sciousness, make it our own, we have no choice 
but to abide by the result. 

First one should become aware that there is 
a warfare in process within the soul, then begin 
to learn the differences between the forces and 
grow into wise choice. Unaware that there is 
such a contest within us, many of us are wavering 
between the disintegrating and the constructive 
forces, now responding to the one, now to the 
other. Some of us choose quickly. Others de- 
lay. Some of us work to build. Others are in 
league with forces that destroy. What we 
should seek to do is to find "the dominant call of 
progress to the soul," and follow that, leaving the 
rest behind. 

Individuality is said to begin with human con- 
sciousness. That is, there are many tendencies 

112 The Open Vision 

■ I II I I IWII I — I TU — — -^ I II ■ -I ■—■■ M .I —— I !■ » ■ I M — ■ —■■ !■■!!■ I I W — ^MW— — MMM— ^«WW 

latent within us and these hy wise selection can 
become one. But no one of these is originally 
absolute or dominant. The unity needed must 
be an achievement. It is necessary both to 
choose and valiantly to act, steadily to contend 
with those forces which impede our way. Or- 
iginally all forces or purposes were good, that is, 
they were all balanced. Even now there is no 
evil that may not be good in proper combination. 
Evil is "the gathered force of undirected and not 
fully animated good." The essential on our part 
is awareness of our possibilities and persistent 
choice, with the realization that our own conduct 
is contributory. By the term "purpose," there- 
fore, this teaching does not mean a fate-driven 
tendency. This book does not teach foreordina- 
tion. "It is all a matter of forces, constructive 
and destructive. We serve our own purpose in 
this world or the other. The desideratum is to 
have a purpose, to achieve, to progress." 

A man's purpose does not consist of what he 
believes or even what he desires, but of what he 
is and what he does. It is the purpose which 
leads to action that avails. Every individual 
must have a work and do it. Free development 
demands this free purpose and concentration. 
The integrity of our nature depends to be sure 
on the parts which make up the whole, but our 
strength lies not in the parts, but in unity. Part 

The Seven Purposes 113 

of our whole development comes through our 
struggle to decide, a struggle which we have to 
put through in part alone. Yet we are also akin 
to those of like purpose, and the possibilities of 
working together toward a noble end are great 
indeed. Thus our actively constructive efforts 
will help not only those with whom we are in 
affinity here but will reach beyond into the other 
life where whole groups work toward a common 
end. "Be true to your purpose and ours, and 
help us build for light and progress," is there- 
fore the great word. 

The chief need on our part, after we have come 
into awareness to some degree of the warfare 
within and have begun to choose, is steady effort, 
concentration, readiness to put the process 
through to the end. We face the fact that our 
conflicts are increased by the number of forces 
to which we are subject. Yet every force play- 
ing upon us can be turned to account, every one 
can become a purpose; all forces being good, 
can become so again, if made intelligent. There 
has been a sundering of these forces, but now 
there is an effort for unity again. What we 
need to learn is the combination which makes for 
construction or progress. We cannot always 
waver between rebellion and progress, but must 
eventually face one way or the other. Life it- 
self is purpose. Our very selfhood or person- 

114 The Open Vision 

ality is purpose. What we need to do is to 
recognize the activities at work within and mount 
with them. 

For force is life, life is active, and "force im- 
prisoned becomes destruction. Good imprisoned 
becomes evil. All are fundamentally good, fun- 
damentally beneficent, but have become powers 
for destruction through lack of progressive de- 
velopment and exercise. All men are fusions of 
many purposes, moved by many forces, answer- 
ing to many calls. Each responds to the call of 
his dominant purpose, which flows and fluctuates 
with his life's struggle. One day he destroys, 
and cares not. One day he builds, and marvels 
at his power. One day he sleeps and forgets. 
One day he fights to the death for a purpose he 
had not yesterday, and loses tomorrow. This is 
the life of man, and this our field of battle. 
There are other lives, other struggles, other les- 
sons to learn, but this is the first." 

We are told that life in the spiritual world is 
"more expansive," happier, more beautiful and 
free, with a freer field for work, and greater love 
and cooperation. Whole groups are there said 
to be united in one purpose according to their 
kind, growth being a matter of experience, not 
of time, with "no age except experience." One 
member of the group speaks of himself as "vitally 
alive," engaged in far more effective service than 

The Seven Purposes 115 

when here. Another one, endeavoring to sug- 
gest this greater vision with the power it brings, 
says, "We so long to tell those whom we love not 
to grieve. We are of you, as you are of us. 
Even more closely than we were when I was 
visibly with you." The life there is said to be 
"pure spirit." To those in the flesh who receive 
these messages there comes "new life, new force, 
new purpose, new faith" through the touch with 
pure spirit. 

These spirits say that they do not see natural 
things as we view them but their significance. 
They see motives where we see appearances. 
They see intentions and their variations, vitality 
and its variations, disintegration or growth; and 
they help us as directly as possible according to 
what they see. They judge our purposes, for 
example, by the vitality shown when we are 
under strain. Thus they see the awakening pur- 
poses, those that make for progress and are able 
to help us in proportion to the vigor with which 
the purpose is put into action. They have the 
power to look ahead and foresee events to some 
extent, that is, to grasp results. But unaware 
of time as we know it, they watch and wait and 
remember, steadily working with the greater 
powers at their command to achieve their high 

What helps us most to do our part in response 

116 The Open Vision 

to this cooperative endeavor in the other life, is 
awareness of the real nature of the struggle such 
that, learning what forces to shun, we hold fast 
to those that lead to God, that is, the forces of 
light, justice, production, truth, healing, build- 
ing, and progress. The seven forces make for 
perfect fearlessness, understanding, honesty, 
sympathy, unity, growth, in short, for progress 
as the great end. "The Eternal Purpose," "The 
Force Beyond Perfection," or "The Great Pur- 
pose," is the universal efficiency, while unity or 
progress is the goal for the race. We need not 
only to become aware of these seven purposes as 
consciously chosen goals, making for eternal 
progress, but to know their opposites, the deter- 
rent or destructive forces which try to defeat 
our efforts. 

Thus envy, malice, doubt, falsehood, ignor- 
ance, fear, lust, cupidity, oppose themselves to 
the seven forces making for constructive de- 
velopment. Within the self there are personal 
motives impeding the higher promptings. Self- 
interest, for example, excludes sympathy and 
true unity, grief, resentment, bitterness, pas- 
sivity, nervous apprehension, worry and fear bar 
the way. We are helped by faith, which is said 
to be a positive force, the thread that connects 
us with those in the spiritual world who are aid- 
ing us. Prayer "with an open mind" is positive 

The Seven Purposes 117 

help, the prayer that "begins and ends with a 
determination not to yield to weakness, or fear, 
or the disintegrating powers." And we are 
helped by "actively constructive effort, con- 
sciously united purpose and force." What we 
call "nervous exhaustion" is due to a yielding on 
our part to forces of disintegration. What we 
need to acquire is the affirmative attitude. We 
need "to get busy and buck up against" the 
forces that we encounter in this effort to grow. 
We should let go of dread, misgiving, unhappi- 
ness. We should learn that true work is the con- 
scious development of spiritual forces. 

"The world fears purpose that is free and fear- 
less. All the forces of humanity are turned 
against freedom. The church imposes its creed, 
the class imposes its caste, the profession im- 
poses its etiquette, the moralist imposes his fear, 
the libertine imposes his folly. All men are 
bound by the conventions of church, caste, pro- 
fession or moral status. Thus do they throw 
wide the door to forces of disintegration. Each 
man assumes a purpose not his own; a force that 
is his own deserts him." 

It would be no real help if those in the spirit- 
ual world who see our situation in this struggle 
for freedom should try to save us from the conse- 
quences of our choice. They may suggest, en- 
lighten, encourage, but cannot bear our burdens. 

118 The Open Vision 

If we are perturbed it is difficult for those who 
would help us to reach our spirits. There is 
every reason to be calm and serene no matter 
what happens to disturb us. We should keep 
as free as possible from disturbing contacts, fight- 
ing ever with the forces of light and life, sticking 
to our central purpose with firm faith. The 
only possible failure comes from admitting doubt, 
disintegration, and fear. Doubt is always 
negative and deterrent. Sorrow is never con- 
structive. A definite purpose in life affords 
great protective power. Love is the one great 
consideration, the love which lasts eternally and 
unites us according to our purpose. Love finds 
a way to make itself known to dear ones in this 
world even though malevolent and crafty forces 

The central teaching of the book is called "a 
gospel of unity and cooperation." Cooperation 
is said to be the basic principle of all progress. 
The step from knowledge of the conflict we are 
under because of the opposing forces is to aware- 
ness of our freedom and its great possibilities 
through wise choice, then the really great step is 
brotherhood in fellowship with our kind working 
"for kindred purposes." 

"Today, the first essential of brotherhood is 
freedom. Freedom to think, freedom to believe, 
freedom to strive, freedom to develop, from 

The Seven Purposes 119 

highest to lowest. . . . The man who has free- 
dom of thought, freedom of purpose, freedom of 
action, is free, though he is a pauper, and is free 
to choose whether he will build or destroy. The 
man who is bound by any tie that dictates his 
thought, belief , or action is a force of disintegra- 
tion, because he may not follow his purpose freely 
and with all his force. The man who has free- 
dom and wealth, and forgets his brother, is a 
force of disintegration. . . . There are many 
phases of development, each looking on to the 
next. If a man climb without envy, forgetting 
himself in his purpose, he shall climb far. . . . 
Bear ye one another's burdens is a command un- 
changed and unchangeable. Give unto each his 
opportunity to grow, and to build and progress. 
Freedom to strive is the one right inherent in ex- 
istence, the strong and the weak each following 
his own purpose, with all his force, to the one 
great end. And he who binds or limits his 
brother's purpose binds himself now and here- 
after. But he who extends his brother's oppor- 
tunity builds for eternity." 

There are many passages in the lessons which 
are already so concise that no further summary 
can well be made of them. Some of these strike 
deeply into the heart of the present social unrest, 
cutting right and left into cherished activities 
supposably making for brotherhood. The aim 

120 The Open Vision 

of these instructions is to arouse each man to the 
manifold circumstances of life in which he ap- 
pears to be working for his brother's good, and 
show him what true freedom is. No man is in 
reality free who fails to command himself in any 
emergency, who fails to carry his share of the 
common load and to find his way amidst all the 
tendencies to luxury and mere wealth. It no 
longer suffices to feed men "husks of brother- 
hood." We should forget the class and re- 
member the man, forget the labor and remember 
the fruit, "forget the temple and remember God." 
We must remember that the forces of light are 
positive, therefore "shun negation . . . shun 
dependence" and work together as individuals, 
consciously cooperating, not as sheep. "A great 
brotherhood is possible only when its component 
parts are great. . . . Brotherhood is purpose of 
progress, not purpose of profit. Brotherhood is 
made beautiful by unity, not by schism. 
Brotherhood suffereth long and is kind. 
Brotherhood regardeth every brother, great and 
small. Brotherhood waiteth on brother and 
grumbleth not. All build together the common 
home of all." 

To some the term "purpose" as used through- 
out this volume may seem abstract if not forbid- 
ding. When, for example, the human person- 
ality is identified with force and a strong person- 

The Seven Purposes 121 

ality is spoken of as a force we seem to lose part 
of the idea of the self. So too when God is re- 
duced to "The Force Beyond Perfection" we 
appear to have lost the idea of God as love and 
wisdom. But there is a certain advantage in us- 
ing the same term throughout since it gives us 
an insight into the central state of affairs with 
man. We all stand in need of an intellectual 
scheme which simplifies matters so that we may 
see where we stand. Life is just such a contrast 
between the destructive and the constructive. 
We are all held in equilibrium until we choose. 
We are all making selective judgments for 
better or worse. Few of us realize to what a 
large extent we are negative. We need a defi- 
nite principle to live by through which we may 
bring matters to a focus. Granted all this we 
may supply what is lacking from other sources, 
correcting the idea of "purpose" by our rich ideas 
of the self, and seeing in the purposes which make 
for perfection a sign of the divine providence. 

The significance of this book lies in the ad- 
vance indicated in contrast with other books pur- 
porting to contain messages from the beyond. 
It should help some who have lost friends by 
death to see in what sense a man can still be pro- 
foundly alive and full of power to help. The 
teachings given are obviously disinterested, al- 
though not by any means so important as might 

122 The Open Vision 

appear. They are not theological in form, but 
may be useful in a non-doctrinal age. Little 
light is thrown on the real meaning of death and 
the spiritual life as a new birth. But granted 
the intellectual outlines, one may spiritualize them 
and show how far this teaching is acceptable. 
One could not rationally infer that it is necessary 
to seek messages from beyond. One finds in this 
book no substitute for interior growth and the 
cultivation of intuition. It takes us no nearer the 
open vision as the spiritual standard. But its 
publication at this time, and the wide reading 
which it has received, are signs that we are ap- 
proaching a period of greater spiritual coopera- 
tion. It is significant too because in common 
with "The Hill of Vision" it discloses a spiritual 
view of the war. The latter book begins in a 
sense where "The Seven Purposes" ends, and 
substitutes for the idea of contrasted forces a 
more illuminating view of the contest between 
Matter and Spirit, Self and God. 



We frequently remind ourselves that a book 
containing truths of value for daily life is condi- 
tioned by the mind of the writer and the circum- 
stances under which it was produced. If written 
several generations ago, we say that the book 
necessarily partakes of the age in which it was 
written, the customs and beliefs then prevalent, 
the language employed, with its peculiar terms 
and symbols. Narrowing matters down to a 
comparison between books, we say that any idea 
or teaching, however high its origin, is accom- 
modated to the mind of the writer, and we find 
different books by writers of the same age differ- 
ing radically. A book is likely to be free and 
impartial in certain respects, and biased in others. 
The peculiarities of the author's mind, his per- 
sonal sentiments, his habits of thought, are likely 
to qualify all that he says. For better or worse 
he has a way of taking life, and this may influ- 
ence his most dispassionate teachings. The lan- 
guage he uses depends on an author's education, 
his habits of expression, his modes of arranging 
ideas, his style. In short, he has temperament, 


124* The Open Vision 

' — — — — — — — i — — i 1 1 — — — — ^— — ——————— — — — ^ 

as the artists say. The personal equation must 
be understood and allowances made for it. So 
far as we can see this is true of even the most en- 
lightened books, and it is noticeably true of cer- 
tain books in the Bible. 

Why should we not apply the same method 
of literary interpretation to books purporting to 
contain messages from the other world? And 
why not go still further and point out that the 
teachings of an alleged communicating spirit de- 
pend in considerable measure upon the ideas he 
held before he left the body? Thus a man hold- 
ing a certain combination of views acquired dur- 
ing a life-time on earth might well produce such 
books as "Letters of a Living Dead Man," and 
"War Letters of a Living Dead Man." Thus 
men of prominence in the field of psychical re- 
search might turn about when reaching the other 
world and begin to communicate such views as 
we find expressed in recent works by devotees of 
psychical research. The question would be 
whether there is anything in such communica- 
tions which may have been carried over the 

Three hypotheses are open to us to consider 
with regard to books purporting to contain com- 
munications. Such a book may be a product of 
the mind of a writer in the flesh projected around 
the personality of some one formerly living here. 

Principles of Interpretation 125 

The ideas attributed to the person in question 
may have some basis of fact, and the author may 
have had psychical experiences of real value. 
But inadvertently the mind may have built a 
large intellectual structure on a slight founda- 
tion. The habit of conversing with oneself may 
have developed so far beyond self-conscious 
observation that a part of the self may have 
come as it were to speak for the alleged disearn- 
ate spirit, while another part may act as ques- 
tioner, recipient and scribe. One is strongly in- 
clined to believe that this is the case in a book 
like "The Open Door," which merely gives back 
a type of belief already held by the writer. So 
a book on vibrations attributed to a Dutch bishop 
of the seventeenth century may be the author's 
way of setting forth the theory in question. One 
is inclined to believe that any communication 
said to come from a person who lived on earth 
more than thirty years ago is a sheer product of 
the mind of the author here in the flesh. One 
takes little interest in alleged descriptions of life 
on twentieth century "planes" where, at will, the 
writer can summon famous men of the past as 

Again, one may hold that the original mes- 
sage on the whole is from the communicating 
spirit, but that many of the subsequent statements 
attributed to that source are supplied by the 

126 The Open Vision 

earthly penman. If, for instance, a writer re- 
ceives a few sentences containing views in accord 
with those which he already cherishes as true, it 
would be a simple matter unwittingly to enlarge 
upon these and to produce a book based on them. 
Inasmuch as habits of thought go with a given 
theory of life, all that is needed to propound a 
theory is a cardinal idea sufficiently persuasive 
to arouse an author's mind into activity. Thus 
if an author, already accustomed to producing 
works of fiction and books on theosophy receives 
a brief message from the beyond and becomes ac- 
customed to the process of automatic writing, 
it might be a simple matter to give forth a whole 
volume as if it came from the same source. 
Believers in theosophy might find it credible and 
apparently wholly genuine. Others, who adopt 
a different view of the future life, might find 
little in it that could be accepted as a genuine 
message from the other life. 

One is perfectly free however to entertain the 
hypothesis that a book is wholly by the communi- 
cating spirit, that is to say, as much of the book 
as can intelligibly be regarded as from beyond, 
in view of the theory that only the pictographic 
process is transmitted, while the actual words are 
supplied by the earthly penman. The main 
ideas might come from the communicating spirit, 
while the secondary ideas, the modes of express- 

Principles of Interpretation 127 

ion, illustrations and symbols, might come for 
the most part from the scribe at this end of the 
process. One would be safe in making liberal 
allowances for the portions unconsciously con- 
tributed by the writer using the pencil or employ- 
ing other means. A book like "Private Dowd- 
ing," for example, might be mostly from the 
other world, might give a very genuine account 
of experiences preceding and following death. 
It would then have value for us according to our 
beliefs on the matters which it discloses. 

In any case a book would take on prevalent 
ideas, and we would naturally interpret it by 
reference to the writer's mind and life. The fact 
that a book is attributed to some one in the other 
world is no ground for expecting that its wisdom 
will excel that of books produced on earth by 
gathering facts and drawing inferences. As 
long as books said to come from the beyond dis- 
close radically different views of that life, we are 
in the same situation as in our ordinary com- 
parisons of conflicting books on theosophy, re- 
ligion, philosophy, and the like. A book pro- 
pounding one's favorite view might tend to con- 
firm us in that view simply because it is said to 
be supernatural in origin. On the other hand, 
we might well remind ourselves that the test of 
any theory is truth, not the origin of the book 
which contains it, not the authority of the writer 

128 The Open Vision 

or the value of the method by which the book 
is produced. 

We sometimes wonder whether a book contain- 
ing alleged messages could be interpreted as 
pure fiction. We raise this doubt because we 
know what marvellous skill writers of fiction pos- 
sess in their graphic portrayals. It is at least 
suspicious that some of the most widely read 
books on psychical matters were produced by 
writers of fiction. But granting for the moment 
that a work is fictitious, a writer would naturally 
make use of the best available material concern- 
ing the other life, that the book might seem 
plausible. Some of the ideas might be pro- 
foundly true, although the writer may never 
have had a message from the beyond. Others 
might be misleading and the incidents as far 
from plausible as those narrated in "Thy Son 
Liveth." The book might have a certain value 
in the present widespread effort to make the 
other life seem real. We might come as near 
reality in fact as in the case of books said to con- 
tain actual descriptions of the future life. 

On the other hand, a book like Carrington's 
"Psychical Phenomena and the War," might 
appeal to us with greater force, since it contains 
incidents gathered from soldiers and others on 
this side of the border. It shows us that psychi- 
cal experiences in war-time are like those of any 

Principles of Interpretation 129 

other time. For example, there are accounts of 
premonitions of events about to happen, guid- 
ances that came to the soldiers in danger, and 
evidences of inner visions. Whatever one may 
believe concerning the objective reality of such 
visions as "the Angel of Mons" or "the Being in 
White," one may hold that subjectively at least 
the experiences were real. Some of us who were 
in the war-zone learned that when a man is face 
to face with the greatest dangers, with death al- 
ways near at hand, he may be more readily lifted 
above his ordinary consciousness than usual. 
For silence, or inner receptivity under favorable 
conditions, is not by any means the only open 
channel to psychical experience. 

As readers we of course judge all books on 
psychical matters by our education, tempera- 
ment, favorite ideas, and especially our experi- 
ences. We are all inclined to retain beliefs 
which interest us, which confirm what is familiar 
because it is familiar, because we have long held 
the beliefs in question without doubts, or because 
our creed is taught by people of whom we ap- 
prove. All the usual standards of criticism are 
useful. But it is also profitable to renounce 
criticism and construct a conception of the future 
life to explain the difficulties of communication. 
If we gain nothing more from the attempt, we 
may at least grow in knowledge of the present 

130 The Open Vision 

life. In the long run the more truly we know 
the present the better prepared we are to inter- 
pret views pertaining to the future life. 

If we have concluded that there is no time in 
the other life, as we mark time, we no longer 
expect precise statements on temporal matters; 
and we see why prophets all through history have 
failed in so far as they undertook to tell the pre- 
cise comings and goings of the realities of the 
spirit. If spiritual states or motives are the 
clues by which spirits judge and are judged, then 
the principle of correspondence between inward 
states and external expression undoubtedly 
holds true. Inasmuch as people differ enorm- 
ously while here, we should expect at least as 
many types in the other life. Well informed in 
the idea of the discrete degrees or differences be- 
tween natural and spiritual things, between the 
human and the divine, we should naturally guard 
against the tendency of many current teachings 
on psychical matters to blur distinctions. 

Yet, whatever the contrasts between the 
worlds, there must be a sense in which the inner 
processes of life in the individual are continuous. 
The future life surely begins where the present 
ceases, so far as character rs concerned. There 
must then be a period of readjustment before life 
under the new conditions can fairly begin. 
This would hardly be the sometime intermediate 

Principles of Interpretation 131 

state called "purgatory," but as a "world of 
spirits" it would hold those who have recently 
"gone West," who are getting their bearings, en- 
deavoring to continue their customary occupa- 
tions and to maintain their former associa- 
tions. The idea of such a state was not theoreti- 
cally necessary while people believed that spirits 
after death would easily drop into hell as a place, 
or as easily attain heaven by a running high 
jump. But now that we believe in law and or- 
der we have no reason for saying that a person 
could either drop or jump. Nor can we reason- 
ably say that spirits bidding their old associates 
adieu may quickly select their new ones. We 
cannot postulate a high degree of self -conscious- 
ness on the part of our race as a whole. Indeed 
we may safely say that exceedingly few have any 
idea when they leave this world where they be- 
long. The idea is unescapable nowadays that 
there must be a period of awakening, with sur- 
prises for many a new arrival. If we may 
judge in any way by the extreme moderation 
with which men and women come to judgment 
in this world, we may hazard the statement that 
the process of adjustment is a long one with the 
majority. For it would not be a mere process 
of self-knowledge but also one of choice between 
motives, the wise course to pursue, the associates 
to mingle with, the work to do, and the far-off 
objective to put before the eyes of the spirit. 

132 The Open Vision 

It is reasonable to infer that in this awakening 
many spirits turn rather towards their former 
abode than towards those destinations popularly 
called heaven and hell. If we may judge by 
what writers tell us who claim to have learned 
most about the spiritual world, spirits seeking 
communication with people in the flesh are more 
interested in the life here than in any other, or 
more concerned at least to help people here. 

This would explain in part at least the inferi- 
ority of many communications, and the low order 
of nearly every psychical manifestation through 
mediums. What comes to us through such 
channels may be compared to those curious first 
impressions which our friends write home from 
foreign lands, when their letters are filled with 
personal sentiments concerning peoples whom 
they have scarcely begun to appreciate. We 
know that our friends who remain for years in a 
foreign land return with ideas differing radically 
from their early impressions. So in the spirit- 
ual world, granting that something can be told 
about the life there, first impressions would be 
of very slight value in case of the average mind. 
Only the highly developed would have anything 
worth communicating, and these might be wise 
enough to say but little to us, save to make it 
known that life is progress for them. 

If it be "the world of spirits" that is adjoined 

Principles of Interpretation 133 

to us here on earth, we would hardly expect to 
receive celestial wisdom, and what heavenly 
knowledge might come to us would be mediated 
to our present states. This seems disappointing 
at first thought, for we have not expected the 
angels to be silent. On second thought, how- 
ever, the idea is illuminating. On earth we 
know that all knowledge is mediated to us, and 
we know that we cannot convey ideas even to 
our own children before their development en- 
ables them to respond to the wisdom we would 
give them. Our lips are often sealed when 
speaking with people in general, lest what we 
might say be profaned. 

Of one principle we may be absolutely sure, 
namely, that no benevolent spirit would ever say 
or do anything to us that would deprive us of 
our freedom and rationality. Inasmuch as it is 
these priceless possessions of our nature which 
underlie individuality, and as individuality is 
sacred, we have every reason in the world to close 
the door against any psychical experience tend- 
ing to deprive us of this the basis of our spiritual 
integrity. Whatever influence or teaching tends 
toward unqualified receptivity or mediumship is 
so far wrong. There is even greater reason for 
abstaining from such practices within the world 
of the self than for guarding against contamin- 
ations in the external world. If with good 

134 The Open Vision 

reason we endeavor to keep ourselves "pure and 
unspotted from the world," with all possible 
reason we should dedicate our interior self to the 
highest sources discoverable. 

Is it worth while then to read any of these new 
books on psychical matters? Certainly, that we 
may see whither thought is tending in this direc- 
tion, and that we may help people through the 
psychical thickets, that they may see the light 
which has come to the world through the open 
vision. Moreover, we have standards by which 
to judge, when it is a question of teachings that 
are eligible. We have the inner or spiritual 
meaning of the better parts of the Bible: in the 
Bible we have the same contrasts here pointed out 
between the spurious and the genuine. We have 
the most rational and illumined teachings to be 
found in books devoted to inner perception or 
seer ship. We have the best wisdom our own 
experience has disclosed, when we have followed 
inner guidance instead of curiosity or the mere 
motive of the investigator. Then too we have 
knowledge of the fruits or consequences which 
have come to people round about us. All these 
considerations may combine to give us a standard 
or "inner dictate." 

For example, if we hold that it is well for 
people to become aware of the inner war as "The 
Seven Purposes" describes it, we may then 

Principles of Interpretation 135 

raise the question, What is the step to be taken 
after we have learned the value of the affirmative 
attitude? What does it mean to be positive in 
the best sense of the word? Naturally, we can- 
not learn this lesson on the mere level of pur- 
poses. It is not a psychical question. One 
must come in touch with greater power than the 
psychical in order to close the door to all that is 
alien and undesirable in the inner world. Nor is 
it a mere question of success. It is in my spirit- 
ual integrity that I am positive, in my whole 
true self, and in this self I am veritably strong 
only so far as I choose God's guidance for me 
instead of my own or the world's. It is "the 
God and one who make a majority" that I seek. 
I am positive when I am unselfish, when en- 
deavoring to live up to the normal ideal, when en- 
gaged in service quickened by love to God and 
man. I am positive when doing my own real 
work in the world. 

If then I find through psychical experience or 
the reading of books on psychical matters that I 
am too yielding, that my spiritual life is mostly 
potential, my responses to opportunity mild and 
moderate; let me launch myself with greater 
impetus in work for others, meeting them more 
than half way. I need not linger in the psychi- 
cal world. What I need to do is to live affirm- 
atively by what I believe, realizing that in the 

136 The Open Vision 

direction of the spiritual work I can do in the 
world there is no. obstacle. Then psychical 
matters will adjust themselves. Then I shall 
see the more clearly what is sound and true, what 
people should seek in order to find their way 
through the thickets of the inner world into the 
light of the divine day. 



The endeavor to understand psychical experi- 
ences and press on beyond them to knowledge 
of the open vision is greatly aided by studying 
the human spirit. But there are two tendencies 
of thought in our day which make such study 
extremely difficult. We have tended to reduce 
the soul or spirit to mental processes, and then 
to explain these by reference to the brain. Thus 
psychology becomes physiological and we lose 
sight of the spirit altogether, there appears to 
be no individual worth studying and no soul to 
survive. Again, some of us have become so at- 
tached to the theory of subconsciousness that the 
centre of interest has dropped below the thresh- 
old of mental life. We seem to have persuaded 
ourselves that the submerged portion of our na- 
ture is more significant than the active or con- 
scious self. Having shifted the interest in this 
way, we now try to explain every psychical ex- 
perience on the supposition that the deeper self 
has somehow played us false. We are afraid 
of involuntary suggestions and the ideas which 
may have stealthily combined themselves in the 


138 The Open Vision 

secret recesses of this wonderful subliminal re- 
gion. It is almost as unfortunate to sell our 
souls to the subconscious as to sell them to 

We may well disregard the physiological ten- 
dency for the most part, leaving it to be de- 
veloped by those who have little interest in men- 
tal life save in its relation to sense-processes. 
The other hypothesis is valuable if not carried 
so far that we scarcely dare to say that our 
souls are our own. The larger part of our self- 
hood is of course at any given moment inactive, 
that is unconscious. Many of the activities of 
which we are conscious have unconscious cor- 
relates which we might inquire into to advan- 
tage. Eut we know nothing about the subcon- 
scious except by inference from what we dis- 
cover through consciousness. The spirit as we 
gradually come to know it through the passing 
years is intelligible as a conscious being rather 
than as a hidden being. My character, for ex- 
ample, although not just now active in full de- 
gree, is chiefly what my most actively conscious 
deeds have made it. I must be conscious to be 
responsible. If I am to develop as a moral be- 
ing I must choose. Even though I possess a 
secret place where God enters my interior self- 
hood without knocking, I am able to make use 
of this knowledge of my spiritual selfhood only 

The Human Spirit 139 

■ — «— i i ■ .i n' ■ i ■ I. ————————— — — 

so far as I act, and regard my interior self as a 
part of my true personality in the sphere of 
conduct. I am never likely to know by direct 
perception whether the eyes of my spirit are 
open. But if I have evidence that there is such 
a power as inner sight, and if I learn to lift my 
spirit into spiritual light in order to receive guid- 
ance, this conscious activity on my part will be 
the decisive consideration; not those processes 
which are subconscious. 

Indeed, the whole meaning of my experience 
in this world turns upon the fact that through 
consciousness what is within me is brought "into 
the open," that I may recognize and take ac- 
count of hidden motives, desires, tendencies, and 
the ruling passions likely to determine my future. 
The idea of the spirit is built up within me as I 
proceed. On the surface of it the spirit seems 
so far dependent on the body that it is a struggle 
at times not to be persuaded that my mental 
states are determined as well as conditioned by 
the bodily organism. In actual feeling I tend to 
remain in that state of confusion between mind 
and body in which most people remain through- 
out their lives. But I am not persuaded by de- 
terminism, say what you will about the depend- 
ence of the mind on the brain. Something in 
me refuses to yield. I am unwilling to stop with 
a study of sense-processes. I insist that you 

140 The Open Vision 

1 " ' ' ' m 

shall take account of every activity in my nature, 
including conscience, intuition, and all the evi- 
dences for the open vision. 

Moreover, there are many respects in which 
the spirit is sharply contrasted with the body, 
and all these are profoundly significant. Every- 
thing in the body is in constant process of change 
or renewal, a process in which the down-wearing 
tendency may sometime triumph over the up- 
building and set the spirit free through the 
death of the body. The spirit must be at least 
potentially immortal, there must be an element 
in it which cannot die, and if the spirit is to enter 
"the everlasting life" it must be in some degree 
in that life now. Why should I not give heed 
to those considerations which point to the exist- 
ence of the spirit as incapable of dying, that I 
may come to recognize myself as the being which 
spiritual wisdom declares I am? 

If, for example, we are right in assuming that 
the inner experience is what is most real in all 
genuine psychical phenomena, if experiences by 
direct impression awaken the spiritual nature in 
us, we may infer that the spirit's interior powers 
function independently of matter. The simplest 
experience in thought-transference should show 
me that the inner senses can operate indepen- 
dently of space, and by an interior or higher 
kind of activity. Other developments, such as 

The Human Spirit 141 

k m l i .il ii n il. !■■■— 1 — — Mil— ^— ■— i ■■ u wil n ■■ n il i I I ■■■ muiw i .h) ■ .ii - i ■ ri i 1 1— — — mim — «BM— WW— » 

the power to gain information intuitively at a 
distance or to see things clairvoyantly, will add 
to my growing conception of the spirit. If the 
spirit be in any way related to spirits in the 
spiritual world, it has at least a point of contact 
with the other world. If it also communes with 
the "saints" in the slightest degree, the spirit 
possesses much more than a point of contact. 
We have only to take one step farther to con- 
clude that the most intelligible way to state our 
whole real inner experience is to say that in our 
spirits we already dwell in the spiritual world, 
we already function in that world in part. 

Again, we learn to discriminate between the 
spirit and the body through intimate knowledge 
of the affections. Knowing'that bodily instincts 
are strong and aware that there is such an in- 
fluence as sexual attraction, we make manifold 
allowances, we learn to guard against subtle con- 
fusions between love and bodily desire. Desire 
we well know is insatiable and insistent, but the 
spirit restrains and regulates the desires, with an 
ideal in view. Those who love deeply live much 
in their feelings and are inclined to become crea- 
tures of passing states and transitory impulses, 
but the spirit seeks constancy as the goal. In- 
fatuation simulates love, but the spirit is thereby 
aroused to know the differences between "falling 
in love" and being in love. Desires, expressing 

142 The Open Vision 

the body, crave expression on their own level; 
but we learn to sublimate them and find modes of 
expression which we call spiritual. Self-cen- 
teredness is often largely physical and we readily 
tend to become selfish through the dominance of 
bodily desires; but in time we learn to draw 
sharp lines of contrast in favor of the better self 
we will to become. People of a highly con- 
scientious nature often condemn themselves for 
evil impulses not in any sense due to the spirit, 
but they learn to attribute these to the selfish 
bodily affections. Fatigue settles down upon us 
and we neglect the heart-promptings of our 
better nature, but in time we make allowances 
for these transitory feelings. The feeling of age 
is chiefly from the body, and we know that by 
contrast the heart never grows old and love never 
becomes an old story. Finally, we are helped 
in all human relationships pertaining to the af- 
fections by noting what love is when quickened 
by ideals in quest of beauty, truth, goodness; 
when prompted by love for God; in the re- 
sponses of the human heart to the Father's love 
for man. Such love is remarkably constant and 
looks forward to eternity for fulfillment. So 
might our friendships be if based on inner af- 
finity. We might come to know and love people 
because of their spiritual spheres. We might 
grow into intimate knowledge of whole groups 

The Human Spieit 143 

■ ■— — — ■ ■■— — — — — ■* 

of people with whom we are inwardly in accord. 
This endeavor to discriminate the spirit from 
the body is furthered also by noting the differ- 
ences between mind and brain. Let us ask, 
What is the use of the brain? It gathers and 
records impressions based on instinct, habit, 
memory. It is essentially a motor organ active 
in the care, welfare and continued existence of 
the body. It is the organ for the co-ordination of 
motor impulses and impressions for practical 
ends. It is the seat of sense-processes, to which 
sensations, feelings of pleasure and pain corres- 
pond in the mind. Thus the mind is brought 
in relation with the world, the mind is the sum- 
total of processes which relate the spirit with the 
external or natural world. But the brain is also 
the organ for receiving impulses from the mind 
and translating them into action through what 
we call "the sense of effort," the strongest mo- 
tive or desire which is permitted to rule. Hence 
on the bodily side the brain is the instrument for 
initiating action, notably in the formation of 
habits. The mind issues the fiat or command, has 
the picture or thought of the desired end in view, 
pays attention and selects the objects in which it 
is interested in response to the prevalent will or 
affection within the spirit; while the resulting 
changes occur within the brain, the nervous and 
muscular systems. "The spiritual clothes itself 

144 The Open Vision 

' • ' — — — ' — — — — * 

with the natural as a man clothes himself with 
a garment." 

The processes of the brain accompany, influ- 
ence and condition mental life, but the corres- 
pondence between cerebral events and mental 
states is inexact. Many activities occur in the 
mind which have nothing to resemble them in 
the brain. For example, when the body is in 
repose and the mind is given over to the study of 
a problem in mathematics or logic, that is, the 
comparison of ideas in the mind's own world, 
ideas which may indeed represent the relation- 
ships of material events but are different in kind 
from anything the outer world discloses as a 
"thing," a tissue or cell. Again, activities take 
place in the brain through its systems of habits 
to which consciousness or mind does not corres- 
pond. We once acquired our habits, but con- 
sciousness has ceased to attend them and is con- 
cerned with new or higher interests. Our ideas 
tend to express themselves in action, for man is 
a practical being; but, leaving bodily activities 
to care for themselves for the most part, man 
gives his thought to many matters which never 
find expression in conduct. On the side of the 
brain there is often conduct or action of mechani- 
cal types, while on the side of the mind there 
are preferences, feelings, radically different from 
them. The body through the brain is under 

The Human Spirit 145 

normal conditions a willing servant of the mind, 
which in turn is the instrument for control, 
efficiency, volition. 

What is the use of the mind? It experiences 
sense-impressions, feelings of pleasure-pain, im- 
pulses struggling into action, and other states 
which correspond though not exactly with pro- 
cesses taking place in the brain. These sense- 
impressions, stored away, combine through asso- 
ciation, are perceived, thought about, selected 
with reference to proposed lines of action, and 
are interpreted according to one's view of life. 
By choosing between diverse impulses, desires, 
images, plans for action, and paying attention to 
those that are eligible, the mind increases the 
power of the latter, while checking or inhibiting 
other plans. Thus the mind overcomes unde- 
sirable emotions, such as fear, anger, jealousy. 
The mind is to a large extent shaped by the 
prevailing interest. It is a dynamic selective 
instrument. It makes effort in favor of desired 
ends, at the behest of the spirit, and so initiates 
action — on its mental side. It is strongly in- 
fluenced by instincts, such as the instinct for self- 
preservation and the sexual nature. Adapta- 
tion to environment is a considerable part of its 
function. Its ideas have less and less corres- 
pondence with outward things as its processes 
turn inward* for example, in self -observation, 

146 The Open Vision 

self-consciousness, the weighing of motives for 
moral reasons, philosophical thought about re- 
ality in contrast with appearances, mathematical 
and logical processes. 

That is to say, intellectual, moral and spiritual 
life goes on within us. This is what we call "the 
life of the soul" or spirit in the truer sense of 
the word. The presence of altruistic motives 
puts the inner life in greatest contrast with de- 
sires which connect the body selfishly with the 
world. The mind has a well-nigh inexhaustible 
supply of incentives and interests in its effort to 
overcome the flesh, to master the love of self and 
of the world. Thus regarded the mind is the 
series of processes which express and imply the 
existence of the soul or spirit. We may think 
of the spirit as the centre of all mental powers 
on the inner side, in contrast with the brain which 
is the centre for the co-ordination and distribu- 
tion of motor impulses on the mind's outer side. 
The soul is the basis or centre of character in 
contrast with mere disposition or temperament, 
which may be largely physical. It is the seat 
of the will, the ruling love, the purpose in life. 
The soul is dependent on its mental processes for 
knowledge of the outer world, but its knowledge 
is partly due to its own contributions by virtue 
of its powers of freedom and rationality. So too 
character is partly the result of activities spring- 

The Human Spirit 147 

ing from within, as the soul meets and faces the 
impulses which are brought in from the body. 

To make this contrast between mind and brain 
is to run counter to much that appears to be 
decisive in the phenomena of habit, hence we 
need to look more closely at the structure of 
habit as we find it described in Professor James' 
famous chapter on the subject. 1 What corre- 
sponds, we may ask, on the mental side to the 
plasticity of the brain through which habits are 
acquired at favorable, junctures in a person's 
life? Let us call it spontaneity or openness, a 
factor which varies greatly with different indi- 
viduals according to the degree in which educa- 
tion has been permitted to impose upon them. 
Since it is "the first step that counts," our habits 
must have been originated through effort in the 
pursuit of ends, as when the mind is applied in 
the process of learning to play a musical instru- 

On the lower side there is effort needed to set 
the brain into activity in the desired direction. 
On the upper side there is will striving to realize 
a purpose. If we keep our spirits young — that 
is, remember to live by the fact that the spirit 
always is young — if we keep our minds open to 
conviction and intuition, spontaneity finds ex- 
pression in conduct throughout our life-time. 

i "Principles of Psychology," Vol. I. 

148 The Open Vision 

But the majority of us lose our inner freedom 
and literally become "creatures of habit." Al- 
though we still continue to fight, our choices seem 
more and more limited by earlier choices made 
when we were less intelligent and when we were 
too greatly influenced, either at home or in 
school, by the creeds of the churches or by the 
world. In the nervous system "function makes 
the organ, and the nervous system grows to the 
modes in which it has been exercised." We seem 
to be spinning the web of our own fate, never 
to be undone. But if with Professor James we 
"keep the faculty of effort alive by a little 
gratuitous exercise each day," we may make our 
nervous system our ally instead of our enemy, 
preserving spontaneity and keeping our spirits 
open in the spiritual direction. 

If when we gain a new impetus we "launch 
ourselves with as strong and decided an initiative 
as possible," if we "never suffer an exception to 
occur till the new habit is rooted in our life," 
we may make new choices and launch our efforts 
with success. Man is a creature of habits largely 
because old habit-systems, persisting from youth 
and later years, rise into activity in contact with 
new systems, and tend to become dominant as 
man grows old in the usual conservative ways. 
There is always a struggle for survival, and often 
it is the strongest not the most fit motive, force, 

The Human Spirit 149 

or habit that survives. The question then is, 
How can we make our new habits so effective 
that they shall triumph? Since habits survive 
partly by use and tend to fall away if unused 
through lack of attention or interest, we have a 
very definite clue to follow. Thus we come to 
realize afresh that the mind is a centre of strug- 
gle between destructive and constructive forces, 
and that we must become deeply aware of the 
warfare within us if we would foster the inner 
life with its spontaneities, its relationship to 
spiritual realities, and its possibilities of recover- 
ing the open vision. 

But the end is not yet. Habit is so strong 
that appearances seem to indicate that the mind 
is merely an automaton. It is well to push the 
hypothesis as far as possible and see that in very 
truth the mind is selective, efficient, and actively 
pursues ends contrary to those suggested by the 
flesh. This makes of the brain "an instrument 
of possibilities," as some one has encouragingly 
called it, instead of a prison-house. The struc- 
ture of habit as found in each of us is precisely 
what we might expect on the supposition that 
the spirit is really efficacious. The mind from a 
biological point of view is chiefly of use in en- 
abling the individual to survive in the struggle 
for life. But from a moral and spiritual point 
of view its use lies in enabling the spirit to hold 

150 The Open Vision 

its own and to rise to great opportunities. Some- 
times the brain is indeterminate, and the spirit 
is able to act with decisive suddenness. Its great 
opportunity is to reinforce the favorable possi- 
bilities and repress the unfavorable ones. 

We note then that on purely psychological 
grounds the question of interaction between 
mind and brain cannot be settled. No appear- 
ance can prove the mind to be an automaton. We 
always insist with good reason that we are not 
machines, that the mind is far more than a flame 
fitfully accompanying the brain. The fact that 
we make effort and that desired results come 
about must be accounted for. No mere study 
of the brain and its processes ever tells us what 
is right and wrong. Despite all efforts to ignore 
this truth, we feel that the spirit is free and re- 
sponsible. The facts of habit can be reasonably 
interpreted in favor of the view here urged that 
habits are initiated through the mind and that 
we might with a better set of beliefs keep our- 
selves alive and open. 

It is well, however, frequently to remind our- 
selves that many activities do indeed take place 
automatically, that automatisms tend to play us 
false; hence that we may generate new habits 
without intending to do so. Moreover, there is 
truth in the theory that thoughts well up out of 
our subconsciousness and influence action with- 

The Human Spirit 151 

out our awareness or consent. Thus the hand 
may automatically move a table, a ouija-board 
or a pencil; and the thoughts may be chiefly 
supplied out of our own minds and the minds of 
others present. What we need is a kind of sub- 
attentiveness such that we shall catch our or- 
ganisms in the act of playing us false, as I have 
indicated elsewhere in describing experiences 
which might have been misleading. 1 If inclined 
to forget that automatic actions always go on, 
whatever else may take place in our mental life, 
it would be well for us to return to a study of 
books in which experiences ordinarily interpreted 
differently are explained on the basis of auto- 
matisms and unconscious cerebration; for ex- 
ample, Carpenter's * 'Mental Physiology," a work 
which was once profoundly influential in giving 
shape to prevailing views. 

What we must insist on above all is that the 
spirit shall have full recognition, that we give 
place in our theory of the inner life to all sources 
of experience. In the last analysis the funda- 
mental fact is the existence of our own conscious- 
ness, with its contents and its elements. That 
is the immediate fact. Hence the direct im- 
pressions or actual states we experience are mat- 
ters of first significance. If we can narrow our 
analysis down to these, we shall have a sure basis 

i "On the Threshold of the Spiritual World," p. 288. 

152 The Open Vision 

on which to proceed. The rest is a question of 
interpretation. In our interpretation we have 
a perfectly good right to draw upon the best 
sources we can find for guidance in studying the 
human spirit. We have a right to believe in in- 
tuition and its deliverances, searching our own 
experiences for evidence. We have a right to 
believe in inner guidance and to follow it to the 
end. We have good reason for holding to our 
conviction that there is a secret place within us 
which God may enter. In fact, without this 
principle of interpretation on the higher side of 
our nature we can make no real headway at all 
in the effort to understand the human spirit; 
for everything turns upon the possession of a 
higher or inner nature which lies open to the di- 
vine love and wisdom, as the true basis of con- 

If we say that "God is in man and, from the 
inmost, is his life," that "God has created in man 
receptacles and abodes for Himself, the one for 
love, the other for wisdom," and that these are 
the real sources of spirituality in him, then in- 
deed we have ground for intelligent thought con- 
cerning the human spirit. For we realize that it 
is because of this priceless relationship to the di- 
vine mind and heart that man is in "the image 
and likeness of God." Truly to think and to 
live from the spirit in him, would therefore be to 

The Human Spirit 153 

live and think from the divine order, not from the 
psychical or the material. To possess the open 
vision would be intuitively to live according to this 
order, letting that vision disclose whatever is to 
be followed. For whatever else man appears to 
lack, he unmistakably possesses the power to close 
or open the door to inner guidance, to take the 
negative or the affirmative attitude, to act in 
freedom according to what he accepts as true. 

The spirit in man, in brief, is that by which 
he truly lives, whatever appearance may seem to 
contradict this reality. The spirit belongs to the 
interior order or degree, while the body pertains 
to the outer or natural order. We should re- 
gard it in the first place from the point of view 
of man's capacity to receive life from the spiritual 
world, by "influx." Man has a spiritual mind, 
not a subconscious but an interior mind. That 
is the proper starting-point of our thought. The 
contrast is between inner and outer rather than 
between the subconscious and the self-conscious. 
Man is by no means conscious of the interior re- 
ceptivity of which his spirit is capable, but he 
can become aware by experience of the difference 
between the inner and outer phases of mental life. 
He can at once begin to think in these terms, and 
so prepare himself to discern the differences. 
Granted some measure of thoughtfulness in this 
regard, man is in a position the better to consider 

154* The Open Vision 

what part of his nature is active in psychical ex- 
periences, and how the psychical may become a 
means to the attainment of spiritual ends. 



Inevitably the mind wavers between doubt 
and belief in the realm of psychical matters. 
Most of us who have come into the light of clear 
conviction have passed through periods of con- 
flict in which we have combatted the testimony, 
now of reason and now of experience, while hesi- 
tating amidst various explanations offered by 
leaders in this field. By common consent the 
psychical field is the region in all human ex- 
perience most likely to be beset with illusions, 
if not delusions. Unluckily, impostures have 
entered in under the guise of the cruder spirit- 
ualism of the nineteenth century. Nothing 
would be more unfortunate than to believe what 
is not true concerning our departed friends. But 
in a way nothing is so important as to learn 
what we can for the sake of grieving and inquir- 
ing ones who have lost friends and are endeavor- 
ing to enter into communication with them. We 
are eager to share our convictions. Yet we are 
determined not to mislead. At one time we 
freely tell what evidences have been given us, ad- 
mitting that we believe in spirit-return. At an- 


156 The Open Vision 

other we are full of critical caution, lest we lead 
people into bye-paths. What we have to give 
might seem very nearly like "the higher spirit- 
ualism," and yet we qualify and qualify. Thus 
we come to believe in certain evidences and to 
reject others, to read some books with approval 
and to put down others forthwith as "dangerous." 

The time has passed for generalizing. It is 
a question of finding what is good or sound, not 
of mere condemnation. It is no longer reason- 
able to put one's seal on the whole subject as 
sheer hallucination. Psychical research has 
shown that these matters can be investigated in 
the scientific spirit. What we need now to con- 
sider more specifically is psychical experience as 
known by the individual, that is, the inner phe- 
nomena in contrast with the material manifesta- 
tions by which the world once judged. When it 
becomes a question of human personality with 
the illusions to which the self is liable, our prob- 
lems are no more difficult than those which beset 
us on every hand when we try to be thorough in 
our psychology, our study of "mental cases." 

The chief reason for informing ourselves con- 
cerning the illusions is found in the service we 
may render to receptively organized people likely 
to linger in psychical bye-paths instead of press- 
ing on to knowledge of spiritual truths in the 
clear light of the new day that is upon us. Un- 

Difficulties and Objections 157 

less we have found our way through the shadowy 
places of the inner world, we cannot with sure 
conviction indicate the path to that transfiguring 
light which is the guide of every man born into 
the world. 

It would be a simple matter, with the special- 
ist in "mental cases," to classify everything 
psychical as sheer hallucination, then give our 
whole attention to the body as the source of all 
human disorders. The assumption would be 
that there is no inner core of psychical reality at 
all, no such power as intuition, no secret place of 
the soul, and no inner perception or vision. The 
individual who claims to have heard voices or to 
have had a vision would then be judged in ad- 
vance of all attempts to find out how real his 
experiences seem to him. The sole difficulty 
would be traced to his brain. To hold this point 
of view is to classify psychical phenomena 
without a hearing. The report of scientific in- 
vestigators to the effect that psychical experi- 
ences are widespread counts for nothing at all. 

Yet, if the foregoing conception of psychical 
experience is the true one, namely, that the real 
matter for investigation is the inner experience 
as felt by the individual, not its psycho-physical 
associates and accompanying conditions, there is 
every reason for taking up the point of view of 
the individual and endeavoring to make it seem 

158 The Open Vision 

as real to ourselves as it seems to one who is led 
to adopt it. There may be merely a core of re- 
ality, and associated with this core there may be 
illusions without number. But the question 
turns upon the interpretation of the part that 
is real. A person might for instance have an 
auditory illusion coupled with a real inner ex- 
perience worthy in every way of careful exam- 
ination and thought. As observers we might be 
exceedingly sceptical concerning the outward 
signs of phenomena, yet have very good reason 
for meeting the recipient of such experiences with 
illuminating sympathy. We might discard 
spiritualism in all its forms, yet have genuine 
problems to face when undertaking to develop 
an adequate explanation of the inner life. 

We have been prone to judge inner experi- 
ences by what we have heard about ghosts and 
apparitions, and the trickery through which 
credulous people have been misled. Our scep- 
ticism has naturally been increased by all that 
we have learned about hallucinations. We have 
learned to our discomfiture that the average mind 
cannot be trusted to tell precisely what is ob- 
jectively real even when circumstantial evidence 
is called for. Then too we are doubtful about 
introspection and the imagination, about any one 
who is in the least degree visionary. 

Yet, who is able to cast the first stone? Every 

Difficulties and Objections 159 

ardent religious devotee of any persuasion what- 
ever, intelligent or ignorant, is likely to take him- 
self too seriously. In another way the advocate 
of science or of theology may be equally strenu- 
ous in insisting upon his particular interest. In 
the last analysis we are all in practically the same 
situation. For better or worse we use the same 
mentality whatever we do, when worshiping or 
driving a bargain, loving or hating, and in our 
wildest fancies. We are in process of learning 
what it is to be normal and sane. Within every 
phase of life there are realities and appearances, 
as in the typical instance of love and its counter- 
feits. Our affections may run through the whole 
scale from selfish passion to disinterested and 
devoted love. We find no one able to explain 
all mysteries. Experience is still our teacher. 
What is high and noble in us finds expression 

To understand psychical experience in the case 
of the given individual, you should learn what 
level of intelligence he is on, and estimate his 
experiences accordingly, indicating the next step 
in his growth if you see it. He may be in a state 
comparable to the one who "falls in love" instead 
of rising, who is strongly inclined to put all the 
blame on the woman. Life sends us home to 
ourselves sooner or later, we come to know our 
own weaknesses, the channels left open, the 

160 The Open Vision 

points of contact, the temptations that have a 
basis of appeal within our own unregeneracy. 
No one can persuade us of anything against 
our natures. What we are concerned with is 
what must be overcome, sublimated. 

Psychical experiences which come to me un- 
sought, that is, according to my guidance, are 
for me to recognize and be instructed by. If 
exceedingly sensitive and open, I may have more 
than my supposed share of such experiences. 
But if so, I shall have more protection too. But 
if I dabble in such experiences I shall have a 
high price to pay. I am supposed to have in- 
telligence and to use it to the end. It is funda- 
mentally a question of knowing one's own nature 
and the way it may be strengthened. We can- 
not close the door on evil intentioned beings and 
angels alike, on all visions, impressions and 
guidances, without defrauding our own nature. 
It is a question of noting the highest experiences 
that come. To understand these we must have 
a standard. We are not proposing to give our- 
selves to mere bye-play. There is a great dif- 
ference between wisdom disclosed through the 
open vision and supposed spiritual entities "pro* 
jected on this plane." 

Is it then orderly or contrary to order to have 
communion with those who have entered the 
spiritual world? We can no longer say unquali- 

Difficulties and Objections 161 

fiedly that it is contrary to divine order, because 
we are learning that it is normal to have the open 
vision, that material interests recede and once 
more disclose spiritual realities when a new age 
dawns. Our experiences will be orderly if they 
come in line with the changes which have brought 
us to the new age, that is, changes wrought from 
the spiritual world in its higher degrees. It 
would not be orderly if men sought psychical 
power as such, without a guiding faith. We are 
concerned with the divine providence, not with 
motives of curiosity. We desire only those de- 
velopments which will enable us the better to live 
our life on earth in service to our fellowmen. 
We close the door to all else. 

It is doubtless true that the angels and spirits 
who are with us are for the most part unaware 
of this relationship, and wisely so, since havoc 
might be wrought were they conscious. The 
new arrivals in the spiritual world surely have 
sufficient occupation in the process of coming 
to judgment, and we would naturally refrain 
from breaking in upon them. But there may be 
more enlightened ones, still in touch with us on 
earth, who do know that they are present with 
us, who are permitted to cooperate with certain 
ones of us able to give teachings just now needed 
by the world. Intelligent effort is perhaps being 
made to explain the means of communication, 

162 The Open Vision 

notably the pictographic process, the rhythmic 
speech or telepathy, and the difficulties encoun- 
tered in the use of language. The result would 
be, not intellectual havoc, but spiritual enlighten- 

It has been said that if spirits were allowed 
to communicate with and aid us at will, their 
influential work would be the equivalent of a 
miracle and would deprive us of our freedom. 
We know very well that many have yielded them- 
selves in unguarded receptivity, hence we em- 
phatically object to any psychical experience 
which weakens individuality. But it is interest- 
ing to note that some who have received apparent 
communications have been warned against de- 
terrent forces, and encouraged to preserve their 
freedom and, rationality. Furthermore, direct 
impressions show us that there is a type of help- 
fulness which is on as high a plane of intelligence 
as any service shown us by wise men and women 
on earth. 

It has been said that spirits communicating 
with men draw upon the external memory, and 
that in the far past some men have been so far 
possessed that they seem to be the obsessing per- 
sonality. The notion of rebirth in successive 
bodies on earth is said to have arisen from obses- 
sions when the possessed personality seemed to 
be the communicating spirit, seemed to have lived 

Difficulties and Objections 163 

before on earth. The idea of reincarnation, then, 
is a delusion due to ignorance of the fact that 
through the external memory one may take on 
the memories of the departed spirit. If this be 
a plausible hypothesis, we have real light at last 
on this doctrine accepted uncritically by millions 
of people on earth. This alternative is surely 
profoundly suggestive. Some of us may have 
been unaware heretofore that we had external 
memories. We may well be on our guard to 
keep people from any experience resembling 
possession. 1 

But the usual warning is that there are evil 
spirits round about us who try by subtle per- 
suasions to influence us. The merest experiment 
with the ouija-board suffices to convince some 
people that there is truth in this warning, for 
there appear to be elusive forces giving such 
names as "Mary" or "Amelia," alleged "spooks" 
who intervene, impersonate departed friends, 
read names from peoples' minds, and otherwise 
mislead. Hence the majority of us would prefer 
to have nothing whatever to do with the phe- 
nomena. There are surely psychological mat- 
ters not yet explained. It would be well how- 
ever to use such a term as "deterrent forces" in- 
stead of "evil spirits." What we need is intelli- 

i See, also, Professor Hyslop's objections ty> reincarnation, on 
psychological and ethical grounds, "Contact with the Other 
World," Chap. XXIII. 

164 The Open Vision 

"-"""■■■"-— "-— — " ——■_-■ — -— — — — — . — ________ _ _____ _ _ _ __ __ __ _ ___________ ____ _______________ — * 

gence to think these matters through to the end, 
and clear up all the psychical illusions. 

It has been said also that spirits with men have 
so filled them with their presence that the re- 
cipients appeared to experience the Holy Spirit. 
Thus men have made all sorts of claims for them- 
selves as immediate recipients of heavenly wis- 
dom. This is said to be the real explanation of 
mystical enthusiasm with all its excesses. If so, 
we have all the more reason for acquiring first 
principles as means of testing mysticism in all 
its forms. We must learn to discriminate be- 
tween God and man, learn what elements of 
mystic experience are contributed from the hu- 
man self, with its beliefs, emotions, enthusi- 
asms, and tendencies to excess. In their own 
selfhood, quite apart from communion with 
spirits, people indulge in this world-old con- 
fusion between God and man. It is not surpris- 
ing that it should enter into psychical matters 

If there are spirits with man of the same 
character as the prevalent state of the man him- 
self, so that covetousness for example, invites 
spirits who are covetous; then let man come to 
consciousness of his ruling love, let him purify 
and elevate the spirit. The problem would be 
the same, even if one were to conclude that there 
are indeed earth-bound spirits around us await- 

Difficulties and Objections 165 

mmammmmmmmmmmmmm — — — i ■■» i ■— — ■■■■ — ■ — ■■■■.■ ■.■—■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■ ■■■■■■■ m i n ■« — i — — — — — — 

ing opportunities to reinforce our ignoble mo- 
tives. If these spirits haunt us, let us remember 
that there are angels too, silent ones who may 
help direct our higher affections without in any 
way intruding upon us. 

After all, the situation is much like that which 
faces us in the world. A gambling den has no 
attraction for us because we do not drink and 
gamble. Other things are indeed close to us and 
we must be on our guard. If we would avoid 
temptation, we know that we must first cleanse 
the inside of the cup. The possibility of unseen 
influences likely to affect us merely adds one 
more to a long list of environing influences, such 
as the crowd-spirit, mental atmospheres, the 
dominating effect of personality. We are all 
subject to negative and positive forces. There 
is every reason why we should become aware 
of our true status with reference to these matters. 
We need to know that we are held in equilibrium 
and why this is so in the divine providence. 
Hence it is not primarily a question of influences 
but of the presence of God with us for our guid- 
ance. Some people seem to have been so led that 
they have scarcely known anything about evil 
spirits, or whether they exist. With them it has 
been a matter of direct leadings. Hence they 
assure us that if an experience is ever produced 
from the spiritual world the initiative must be 

166 The Open Vision 

taken from that source according to the divine 

Even if we believe that guiding spirits are 
with us, there is no reason for accepting them as 
speaking with authority. An experience has no 
necessary value because it is referred to the 
spiritual world as its source. If guidances which 
prove true are given us, each may be estimated 
for its own worth amidst all else that life holds 
for us : there is no reason for becoming dependent 
on guidances attributed to spirits. At best such 
leadings are of one type only. We are concerned 
with guidance as a whole in relationship with the 
divine wisdom. It would be well to look always 
to the highest source and not judge by the in- 

The objection to making an effort to recall 
a spirit by the aid of mediums is well put by Dr. 
Holcombe, in a letter to a widow seeking con- 
solation through spiritism. "There is one grand 
and perfectly conclusive reason why your hus- 
band cannot communicate with you, and why 
you should not even wish him to do so. After 
death the spirit undergoes various changes of 
state in the world of spirits, before it can be pre- 
pared for consociation with angels and entrance 
into heaven. These changes are made in part 
by putting off forms of external thought and af- 
fection which bind it to the natural world with 

Difficulties and Objections 167 

its limitations of time and space. Anything 
which would bring it back into those old earth- 
states of feeling and idea, would arrest its spirit- 
ual progress, draw it backward to earth, and 
violate the laws of spiritual evolution, which are 
so beneficent in their operation for the associated 
happiness of each and all, and for the final and 
perfect union of affiliated souls. The spirit- 
ualists seem to know nothing of the great organic 
processes by which the spirit thus puts off the 
natural sphere and becomes adapted to spiritual 
spheres — a fact which alone would make us re- 
gard their communications with suspicion and 
distrust, as coming from very immature, earthly, 
and external spirits. 

"The spiritualists also ignore one of the funda- 
mental truths of Swedenborg's system, viz., that 
the spiritual and natural worlds are discretely 
separated from each other — that each has its 
specific forms and forces and its special life re- 
sulting from them. The other life is far more 
perfect than this in all its forms of public, social, 
and private uses. But these things cannot be 
communicated by the mere guidance and instruc- 
tion of spirits. They grow out of ourselves after 
death, according to what our life has been in 
this world, by a process of evolution. That life 
is the fruit, of which our earth-states are the 
leaves and flowers. The two lives cannot and 

168 The Open Vision 

ought not to be mingled upon the same plane 
. . . Our natural life must be governed by sci- 
ence, reason, and the wisdom of the Word of 
God, and not by advice and control from invisible 
sources, either good or bad. Nothing could be 
more disastrous to his spiritual welfare, and to 
your own welfare both spiritual and natural, than 
for your husband to appear regularly to you and 
give advice and direction in all your worldly 
affairs." 1 

This looks disheartening at first and seems to 
put our loved ones far from us. If however we 
say that the worldly interests which tended to 
keep a husband and wife apart in their special 
occupations gradually fall away from the one 
who is gone, that he is elevated above his old 
habits, customs, tastes, and peculiarities belong- 
ing to his life on earth, it follows that these no 
longer stand between, hence that the two may 
draw ever more close in spirit, despite the fact 
that there are few verbal communications. The 
ties which truly unite will then grow more strong. 
There will be more in common, not less. " These 
are the sacred interior bonds which unite the 
angels of heaven." 

Hence Dr. Holcombe continues, "How are 
you to attain this spiritual oneness with your 
husband? Not by thinking continually of his 

i "Letters on Spiritual Subjects," p. 234. 

Difficulties and Objections 169 

dead form, and brooding over the solitudes of 
the grave. He is not there; he is risen in a 
spiritual body; and you will never find him, or 
come within the sphere of his ascended soul, 
among the habitations- of the past. Not by cling- 
ing to him as he was in the past, and preserving 
his thoughts, opinions, prejudices, affections, etc., 
as sacred things which you must cherish for his 
sake. . .' . You will probably not find him in 
his past life any more than you will find him in 
the grave." 

We conclude therefore that it is never pri- 
marily a question of the objections and difficul- 
ties but of the positive wisdom we can gain on the 
life after death. The spiritual ideal is so much 
more worth while that there is no reason to linger. 
We need to guard both against the grief, the per- 
sonal feelings and secondary experiences which 
might hold us back ; and the teachings concerning 
the spiritual world of those who know only a little 
about the "planes" and "auras" and other psychi- 
cal matters about which they talk so confidently. 
There is direct spiritual teaching for each one 
of us if we want it. "The pure in heart shall 
see God," that is the primary consideration. It 
is the open vision of heavenly wisdom that sets 
the standard. "Nothing produces spiritual pres- 
ence but through affinity and similarity of affec- 
tion and thought." Unworthy motives, pre- 

170 The Open Vision 

sumption, idle curiosity, breed their like. Falla- 
cies, delusions, mischief, pretended revelations, 
spring from low motives. There are signs of 
the coming of power from on high that are un- 
mistakable: states of humiliation, the purifying 
of the tastes and inclinations, abstention from 
evils, the loving of the neighbor better than one- 
self. The differences are discoverable all along 
the way, in the motives which actuate us secretly 
or otherwise, in our thoughts, our conduct, in all 
external affairs. There are signs too of regen- 
eration: self -disclosures, temptations, wrestlings 
and self-renunciations. At any given time we are 
somewhere on the road toward spiritual judg- 
ment and rebirth. What avails is knowledge of 
the point we have attained, that we may make 
intelligent choice and press on. There is guid- 
ance for us at each juncture on the pathway of 
the soul. The same is true of a given age like 
our own, with the newer evidences that communi- 
cation between the two worlds has become more 
open, hence that there are fewer objections to the 
idea of spiritual communion. 



Inasmuch as personal experience is more in- 
teresting and instructive to most of us than 
volumes of argument and theory, I shall with- 
out apology tell how I was led into the realities 
of psychical experience by following clues which 
life itself disclosed. It is to be hoped that more 
people will give heed to the leadings of experi- 
ence in this unpretentious way. There should be 
no more objection to the description of experi- 
ences and what they appear to imply than to an 
account of an experiment in a laboratory. The 
inner life is the laboratory of the soul. What is 
observed there should be at least as significant 
for human beings as any discovery one might 
make in chemistrv. In a scientific laboratorv 
we learn to make allowances for deflecting in- 
fluences, and later we submit our results to 
searching criticism. In the inner world we 
should be able to make equivalent allowances 
and arrive at results no less sure. 

Born and reared in a household where the 
teachings of P. P. Quimby began to prevail be- 
fore my birth, I grew up without the traditional 


172 The Open Vision 

teachings concerning salvation and the exclusive 
privileges of the Church. I was not taught to 
read any views into the Bible, but was permitted 
to read it in my own way when I became inter- 
ested to do so. Mr. Quimby's view of the spirit- 
ual world as near at hand and that death is in- 
cidental, prevailed in the household, although the 
subject was not often mentioned. The experi- 
ences and beliefs I grew into were those which 
any one might enjoy who is equally free to follow 
where he is led. If this statement is correct in 
the main, the chief difficulty is that we give no 
thought to intuition or the promptings of per- 
sonal experience. It should be said in my case, 
however, that with a keenly sensitive tempera- 
ment and an early tendency to introspection, I 
turned rather more naturally than some to the 
examination of inner states. If this seems like 
an advantage, it should also be said that one 
tends in a measure to become self-sufficient. 
One must guard more resolutely against the im- 
agination and any phase of consciousness likely 
to lead to mystical self-centeredness. 

The first intimation I had as a boy that one 
possesses other senses than those obviously physi- 
cal, came through spontaneous impressions re- 
garding things mislaid or lost. One of these im- 
pressions was more distinct than earlier ones. I 
had been almost indifferent when a member of 

Personal Experiences 173 

the household lost a diamond out of a ring, while 
every one in the household save myself had tried 
to find it. Then after two days I started up with 
a spontaneous inclination to find the diamond, 
and went immediately to the place where it lay 
concealed. This experience led me to believe that 
I might put my mind into a state to receive im- 
pressions, and I found that often-times by a 
process of elimination it was possible to discover 
"a live clue" and to follow it successfully. Thus 
began the life-long habit of turning to the inner 
world for impressions before seeking informa- 
tion by asking questions or by external observa- 
tion. I found that with some measure of suc- 
cess I could gain impressions at cross-roads or 
obscure points in a path, concerning the right 
road to my destination; and that in a strange 
town it was possible to get leadings by sending 
out my thought in various directions to deter- 
mine the one to follow. This endeavor was fos- 
tered by visualizing the face of the person whom 
I was expecting to see or by calling up the men- 
tality or sphere. Once in New York City I 
started out apparently at random with the hope 
that I might meet a friend who was surely in 
the city, although I had not the least clue to his 
whereabouts. Threading my way along a main 
thoroughfare for a while, I followed an impres- 
sion to turn down an intersecting street and in 

174 The Open Vision 

a few minutes I met my friend walking towards 
me. My friend did not know I was in town 
and was not looking for me. He was well ac- 
quainted with the inner life, and I knew him as 
an "inner friend." This interior relationship 
apparently accounted for the fact of the impres- 
sion to turn toward him. On several other oc- 
casions impressions consciously sought came in 
the same way. 

There also came spontaneously a sufficient 
number of experiences in thought-exchange to 
show that a spontaneous experience is ordinarily 
better than an experiment under prearranged 
conditions. Once however, by appointment with 
a member of the family while two hundred miles 
away, I received the exact words of a complete 
sentence amid conditions which would have satis- 
fied any scientific demand. Noting the sentence 
and that afterwards I could catch no words but 
only a blurred feeling, I communicated with the 
sender; and learned by a letter which crossed 
mine that after transmitting this sentence the 
sender hesitated what to say next, and so con- 
veyed no distinct thought. When a thought 
came spontaneously from another's mind, in con- 
trast with an experiment, I found that I need 
not be troubled lest my own mind had projected 
it ; and if there were any doubt I could make note 
of day and hour, and ascertain the facts at the 

Personal Experiences 175 

sender's end. When another person received a 
thought corresponding to mine, I also had evi- 
dence that there was actual transference of men- 
tal activity or vibration. It was natural to con- 
clude that telepathy would take care of itself 
and might be noted for any value it should prove 
to possess. 

Once, I apparently heard my name called, al- 
though a member of the family who was present 
heard no sound. Going to another part of the 
house to find the person who had supposably 
called me by word of mouth. I learned that the 
other had been thinking of me and was about to 
call when she remembered that I was occupied 
with important matters, and so she did not call. 
I had not only received her thought but distinctly 
heard my name. Plainly, the supposed sound 
was an auditory illusion. But the experience 
showed that one need not be disconcerted by such 
an illusion, since it might be associated with a 
real inner experience. In this case the signifi- 
cant fact would be the inner experience. Thus 
in the case of a younger member of the family 
out at play there was an actual thought but no 
sound, howbeit the illusion was perfect. This 
time the mother was really trying to call the boy 
mentally. The boy received the thought with 
such vividness that he exclaimed to his play- 
mate, "Did you hear my mother call?" The 

176 The Open Vision 

other boy heard nothing, but so strong was the 
auditory illusion that the recipient went home in 
response to the call which seemed to him the ac- 
tual sound of his mother's voice. 

On another occasion M r was several miles 

from home, and eagerly wishing that she might 
return, I unintentionally called her. Although 
perceiving no words and having no impression 

regarding my need, M felt the outreaching 

so strongly that she came home to ascertain "the 
trouble/' as she said. From this experience I 
learned not to disturb a person unless the need 
were urgent. Plainly, this precious power of 
communication at a distance should be reserved 
for special occasions. 

The following instances I will quote from an 
account contributed anonymously to a magazine 
after the incidents occurred. "Again, on Sep- 
tember 3d, 1890, I boarded a steamer at Liver- 
pool bound for New York, incidentally noting 
that it was exactly 2 p. m., and quite naturally 
directed my thought toward my friends at home 
but without any attempt to communicate defin- 
itely. No one at home knew at what day, or 
hour, or by what steamer I was to sail, as the 
letter announcing my departure was still in mid- 
ocean. . . . On the above day, M suddenly 

said to another member of the family: *W 

has just boarded the steamer at Liverpool.' The 

Personal Experiences 177 

experience was so marked that M took care- 
ful note of day and hour. In a few days the 
letter came announcing the time of my departure 
which, allowing for the difference of time, cor- 
responded exactly with that given above. 

"At another time I had made an appointment 
to call at an artist's studio at 3 p. m. to see a cer- 
tain picture. At 10.30 a. m. on the same day I 
had a strong impression to go at once to the 
studio; concluding to obey it, I arrived there at 
eleven o'clock. I was received as if I came by 
appointment, and learned that the artist had 
sent a note at 10.30 asking me to come at 11 
instead of 3 p. m. When I came at the hour of 
this second appointment he took it for granted 
that I had received his note and greeted me ac- 
cordingly. But I had left the house several 
hours before, and at the time he wrote the note 
I was out walking. As nearly as we could de- 
termine I had received his thought at the precise 
moment when he sat down to write the note an- 
nouncing the change of appointment." 

The communication at the time of my depart- 
ure from Liverpool was instructive because it 
showed that on a comparatively slight clue by 
means of telepathy the recipient might, if clair- 
voyant, actually see the distant person and tell 
what he was doing, and give the full reason for 
the spontaneous communication. But a spon- 

178 The Open Vision 

taneous experience does not necessarily surpass 
one that is consciously sought, as I learned once 
when in the case of serious illness I actively tried 

to communicate with M , at a distance of 

more than three thousand miles, to inform her 

that I was in distress. M was awakened 

from deep sleep during the night, recognized the 
call and responded to it with the sure conviction 
of one who is perfectly at home in the inner 
world. I am wholly unable to agree with those 
who maintain that thought-transference is best 
established when the persons in question are not 
well acquainted and when there is nothing per- 
sonal in the communication ; for it is precisely the 
opportunity which inner affinity and special 
needs afford that gives the best evidence, with the 
rich and deeply suggestive values which such an 
experience implies. 

The intimate relationship of minds at a dis- 
tance having been established, I also received 
spontaneous evidences that guidances may come 
in time of need. Once when in imminent danger 
from an oncoming train in a railway "yard" into 
which I had wandered with the recklessness of 
youth, and when I was momentarily confused 
by a train approaching around a curve, I received 
a sudden impression to stop. Accordingly, I 
obeyed and the passing train went by leaving me 
in safety. During the same year I ran an even 

Personal Experiences 179 

greater risk, for I was walking toward a railroad 
track where an embankment at my left concealed 
a train backing down without warning: that was 
before the days of safety signals. When, un- 
mindful of the danger, I was on the point of tak- 
ing the fateful step that would have brought me 
to the track, there came a most distinct warning 
to stop. I obeyed the impression, and was then 
brought to a realization both of the very great 
risk I had taken and of the protecting care which 
surrounded me even when I was careless. 
Plainly, I ought to be more cautious. But how 
comforting the thought that one could be warned 
in a moment of need! It was natural to con- 
clude that these experiences were given for my 
instruction concerning inner guidance. 

If we have had premonitions of this sort we are 
at least sympathetic towards people who have 
had similar experiences. Thus one is prepared 
to believe the instance is true concerning the 
locomotive engineer on an express train at night 
who received an inner warning to stop his train, 
and who was so strongly impressed to obey the 
premonition that he yielded despite the apparent 
absurdity of doing so. Stopping the train and 
walking ahead to see what might have happened, 
he came to an open draw-bridge only a short dis- 
tance ahead. His premonition was plainly a 
real psychical experience. 

180 The Open Vision 

Some would at once infer that guardian angels 
sound these warnings in the inner ear. But if 
so there appears to be no consciousness on our 
part of their presence. The experience is usually 
a simple impression, like "a feeling in the bones," 
and is susceptible of varied interpretations. 
The best result that comes to us is belief in the 
divine protecting wisdom which includes all our 
needs and is made known to us through various 

This belief in the divine protection was further 
strengthened by an experience in which I was in 
very grave danger from an influential person 
whose power over me I did not understand. At 
the moment of gravest danger I felt a superior 
presence apparently coming between my tempter 
and me. I seemed to see the face and form in 
part. The experience was as distinct and vivid 
as if I had been stopped when my own power 
was not sufficient to resist the pernicious in- 
fluence. It was an impressive surprise to have 
this objectifying vision, for I am not ordinarily 
clairvoyant and do not see forms or faces. 
Quimby's teaching led me to turn away from 
spiritism, and to explain all experiences on the 
simple basis of intuition or impression. Yet here 
was an experience which stood out by contrast, 
and which I here describe for whatever it may be 
worth. It was doubly impressive in view of the 

Personal Experiences 181 

f aet that an intuitive friend, a few miles distant, 
realizing that I was in danger, came to search 
for me in response to an impression. In this 
two-fold guidance I saw evidence of a protection 
so sure that it became the basis of a faith which 
has many times been confirmed since then. 

On another occasion during the same year I 
apparently saw the same face when there was 
special reason for guidance. Rarely in the 
course of many years of observation has any simi- 
lar experience occurred, and never in connection 
with any words or messages, or in response to any 
effort on my part. These experiences were the 
more interesting in view of the fact that the 
teaching in which I had grown up led me to look 
for intuitions or impressions only, and to explain 
all guidances on the basis of the operation of my 
own nature. 

Such a vision might of course be a mere pro- 
jection of one's own mind. But it comes with 
the force and imagery of an objective guidance 
almost as real as the physical presence of a 
person. It stands out in contrast with experi- 
ences which have no such visual accompaniments, 
and because of its quality and the conviction that 
it is real. Even if one should conclude that the 
vision was purely subjective, the inner experience 
would remain in memory as a spiritual fact to 
be accounted for. It might be argued that such 

182 The Open Vision 


an experience is the more credible when it comes 
to one who by training is sceptical about any ex- 
perience of a visionary nature. There is at any 
rate no reason why we should not report that 
life has yielded a guidance of this profoundly 
convincing sort. 

Having found from early experiences that one 
can sometimes discern the sphere or atmosphere 
of people, I grew naturally into an explanation 
of the impressions one feels when writing letters 
to individuals of various types. I found myself 
inclined to write in diverse ways to different peo- 
ple, according to the type and the knowledge of 
language, unless I made an effort to overcome 
this inclination. Once when writing to a stranger 
I was strongly tempted, much to my surprise, to 
dissemble. Throwing aside the influence, I 
wrote what I had to say and thought no more of 
the matter until a letter came from this stranger 
which impressed me as insincere. Later, I 
learned through a mutual acquaintance that this 
man was indeed a dissembler, and I saw that he 
had as far as possible concealed his real thought 
from me. I have found by long experience that 
impressions are less likely to come when writing 
to men of affairs on business matters, since there 
is no personal or inner relationship to establish 
the psychical connection. 

Naturally enough, one whose sensitivity 

Personal Experiences 183 

grows through observation and use has his prob- 
lems to meet such that it becomes difficult to push 
on to sure knowledge of reality. He is likely to 
become so sensitive to atmospheres that he must 
learn to close the door and seek to become more 
positive. The problem was to keep sufficiently 
open that one might be of service to others 
in the discernment of inner states, and yet 
to avoid mere mixing of atmospheres and 
unguarded receptivity. It simplified matters 
when one reasoned that in the case of undesirable 
influences there was a point of contact within 
the self, hence that one was solely concerned 
with oneself, not with possible influences from 
spirits. It was then a question of correcting 
one's own nature, not of reforming the world. 
It was plain that by persistent cultivation 
of the intellectual life one could offset and 
eventually outgrow undesirable sensitivity, and 
that experiences which disclose inner relation- 
ships are given for a purpose. 

Hence there grew up the habit of testing all 
significant matters in the light of keen intellectual 
scrutiny, while one continued as usual to believe 
in inner guidance. Just as I early learned to 
wait at the cross roads when travelling through 
a strange country, so I submitted all plans to 
the inward test. Always when about to board 
a train, for example, I paused to become recep- 

184* The Open Vision 

tive for a few moments, that any premonition of 
danger might come to consciousness, or that I 
might be open to any desirable change of plan. 
I came to believe that a first general impression 
would apply to an entire journey, such as a 
voyage to Europe, and that impressions from 
point to point along the way would enable one 
faithfully to carry out the initial guidance to the 

Thus one grew into the expectation that if in 
any undertaking one encountered no check or 
impeding impression he must be moving in the 
right direction. If on the wrong road one would 
expect to receive negative impressions from the 
first. Yet he might sometimes receive unfavor- 
able impressions with a conviction that these refer 
to difficulties to be overcome, hence one should 
press on. Thus in a war-zone one might have 
impeding impressions without number, yet above 
them all a leading to push through to victory. 

Only once in the course of many years did a 
negative impression come regarding a railway 
journey. When about to board a train the 
words came to me unexpectedly, " There is going 
to be an accident, but you will be all right." I 
therefore started on my journey in confidence. 
The negative impression was confirmed by a 
minor accident two hours later. On another 
journey I had one adverse impression after an- 

Personal Experiences 185 

other, but without words and mingled with a feel- 
ing that it was right to continue. The sequel 
showed that I was not to carry out the project 
on which I had set out, hence the unfavorable 
impressions; but there were other ends to be at- 
tained which I had not foreseen. Inasmuch as I 
received no premonition of dangers along the 
way, it was right to persist despite the adverse 

Another phase of these inner experiences be- 
gan to come into view in connection with a plan 
to move to another house in the same city. 
During the two weeks in which members of the 
family were house-hunting and consulting adver- 
tisements, I felt as indifferent as in the case of 
the lost diamond referred to above. Then 
suddenly one evening I announced that I would 
find the house we were to live in. Going rather 
directly to a vacant house not half a mile away, 
I distinctly saw the family living and carrying 
on a certain kind of work there. Returning 
home, I informed my parents that I had found 
our new home. After some delay and further 
exploration, this house was decided upon and the 
work I foresaw was carried on there. From this 
experience I learned to wait until the impression 
came before seeking a dwelling-place. On two 
other occasions separated by intervals of years I 
was led to our next home in the same way, and 

186 The Open Vision 

in each instance on the day when the impression 
came. In neither case did I make any effort to 
find the house that was "for us" by any conscious 
activity on my own part. In still another in- 
stance of house-hunting the place to which we 
moved was found by another member of the 
family, but I knew it was the right one because 
on entering it for the first time I saw the family 
living there. 

Deterring impressions, I early learned, are 
often as significant as those that are positive. 
In one instance I embarked on a certain enter- 
prise because a good adviser insisted that I 
should. But everything went at cross purposes, 
and I gave up the venture because it brought no 
inner response to the effect that it was right. I 
learned from instructive experience not to disre- 
gard a negative impression. For once I per- 
sisted in mailing a letter despite the fact that 
when about to post it I felt a warning to the 
effect that it would breed trouble. The trouble 
came indeed and I lost a whole year in point of 
time by my refusal to stop when checked. At 
another time when about to post a letter I heard 
the words, "Do not sell your soul." I posted 
the letter nevertheless, for the import of the 
warning was that I should proceed, although with 
thought fulness. 

Much then depends on one's interpretation 

Personal Experiences 187 

and on one's will. Guidances do not deprive us 
of our freedom although they may come with 
great persuasiveness. One may disregard them 
and take the consequences, thus learning from 
experience how to know guidance from personal 
inclination. Judging by the experience alone, 
there is often no reason for inferring from the 
impression that an angel guide was the mediat- 
ing presence through which the guidance came. 
Not even when words arise into mind, has one 
positive evidence that a guardian angel was 
present; for our own minds sometimes bring 
thoughts to us in the form of words heard with 
the inner ear as if spoken, or our minds con- 
tribute the words in which a guidance takes form. 
It may be wiser that we should not know that a 
guardian is with us. For the primary consider- 
ation is always the divine basis of guidance, what- 
ever the means it assumes. Moreover, one seeks 
to avoid taking oneself and one's experiences too 
seriously. One's experiences are merely so many 
signs and so many tendencies in the laboratory 
of the soul. There is no reason for haste in 
arriving at conclusions. There are tests and 
teachings outside of one's nature to which per- 
sonal experiences may be submitted. Subjec- 
tive experience alone is not and never can be the 
decisive test. Nevertheless, inner experience if 
followed as a gift, not as a process which one 

188 The Open Vision 

seeks to control, may lead the way to an alto- 
gether convincing theory of inner guidance and 
divine providence. So too spontaneous experi- 
ences may point the way to the adoption of a 
method of seeking guidance which will yield 
better and better results as the years come and 



There is a distinct advantage in following the 
developments of inner experience without in- 
dulging in experiments to test the idea of the 
survival of personal identity or spirit-return 
On learns to keep an inner door open for guid- 
ances that may be vouchsafed for a purpose, yet 
one makes no personal effort to attract experi- 
ences of a psychical nature. One has a method 
of awaiting impressions, submitting everything 
consequential to inner guidance ; and one believes 
profoundly in inner responses as a test of reality 
and truth. But there is no outreaching, no 
eagerness, hence no tendency to create an ex- 
perience out of hand. One believes that if there 
be any experience to be given for good reasons 
from a higher source it will come, if not in one 
way then in another. This belief gives the in- 
centive, prepares the way without interference. 
The result is that by experience itself one learns 
to know the difference between an intuition aris- 
ing within the mind as ideas come and go, and 
a direct impression due to activities outside the 
self. The direct impression coming thus spon- 
taneously, brings its own evidence with it. 


190 The Open Vision 

Naturally we differ in type and experience in 
these matters. It might be wise for some of us 
to ask for evidences of the continued presence 
around us of friends who have gone across the 
threshold, although this seems contrary to order. 
But for some of us it plainly would not be wise 
despite the fact that we have grown up with the 
conviction that the spiritual world is near. In 
my own case a premonition of the passing of a 
loved one came, as I believe, to prepare me to 
meet the experience, that there should be no 
sense of separation, no break in the continuity 
or inner relationship. Hence to my surprise I 

felt no impulse to keep A with us. With 

him the transition was apparently of the gentlest, 
most natural kind, without serious interruption 
in consciousness. For me it was the closing of 
one chapter and the opening of another, in which 
experience itself was still to lead the way. It 
would have been unwise to invite communion 
with him. Indeed it was necessary for some 
time to refrain from rather than to welcome this 
communion. Hence when it came it brought 
convincing evidence of its reality, and led me to 
believe that experience by direct impression is 
the surest proof that death is no real separa- 

There was no effort whatever on my part to 
reach out to find A . My belief in the life 

Direct Impressions 191 

after death was such that I should have had no 

reason for this outreaching. I thought of A 

as alive and near by, going on in his develop- 
ment under freer conditions, but in no way sepa- 
rated from us in spirit. While he was still with 
us in the flesh I had communicated with him 
mentally at a distance, and I had no reason for 
thinking that this interchange would be broken. 
Nor had I any reason to guard against subtle 
attempts to conjure up A's presence, since there 
was no notion on my part that his spirit was re- 
moved from us. My belief simply was this: 
that if it were right communion with him would 
be vouchsafed according to the higher law. 

It is difficult to tell what followed so as to 
share with others what may be shared and yet 
make the statement as convincing as it might 
be if one could tell all. At first I simply felt 

the presence of A as usual, as if he had not 

gone at all, without awareness of guidance and 
without receiving any words. Then when I re- 
ceived a few words they came as naturally as any 
thought detected through telepathy with a person 
in the flesh. I felt the presence coming towards 
me, knew the direction from whence it came and 
whither it went, although I saw neither form nor 
face. Rendering myself receptive without eager- 
ness, in the manner which I had found from ex- 
perience to be desirable, I distinctly perceived a 

192 The Open Vision 

very brief message of a personal nature for some 
one in the family. It was a word of advice 
which conflicted with what the other person be- 
lieved was right, but which proved its value in 
contrast with an attempt to disregard it. One 
could hardly imagine more satisfactory evidence 
of the reality of a communication. 

On several other occasions I received a warn- 
ing impression and made myself as receptive as 
possible, although the result was never so distinct 
as in the first instance. Then after the lapse of 
months I realized that my mind tended to gener- 
ate and objectify a message before I could be- 
come genuinely receptive, and a doubt inter- 
vened. This seemed unfortunate, for appar- 
ently the doubt closed the door upon a very real 
experience. But this doubt passed and I once 
more found it possible to receive a word or two 
which I believed came from beyond my own 
mind. And it was shown me by conclusive ex- 
perience that receptivity on our part is not al- 
ways essential. 

One day, while absorbed in the study of 
Spencer's "First Principles," in my room at 

college, I felt the presence of A as before. 

Coming as it did amidst intellectual concentra- 
tion, I was convinced that the presence could 
overcome mental and other obstacles. A few 
days later, I distinctly felt the presence again, 

Direct Impressions 193 

when engaged in a very different occupation. 
Later still, I learned to recognize the presence in 
connection with my work, when no message was 
given, when there was no reason for special 
guidance ; but when I felt a spirit of helpfulness 
that came as one might hold a brighter light over 
another and aid him to see his own way. This 
kind of helpfulness, I have come to believe, is the 
best sort in the world. One is entirely free to 
act contrairiwise, and thus one may come to 
learn by experience the superior value of wisdom 
offered us which we are at first disinclined to ac- 

After a time I ceased to feel the presence of 

A , and very naturally as it seemed to me, 

inasmuch as an enlightened individual would 
probably go on to higher spheres of activity and 
would not return except in cases of special need. 
This did not mean a sense of separateness, and 
why should we ever think of ourselves as cut off 
from our loved ones? It simply meant that one 
had one's own life to live amid conditions close 
at hand, while the other had found superior con- 

Then after the passage of years there came the 
first message I was able to associate with another 
personality, under circumstances which made the 
communication doubly persuasive. I had never 
seen this man J in the flesh, although I had 

194 The Open Vision 

corresponded with him before his death and was 
well acquainted with people who knew him. I 
also knew that he was working to free souls. A 
few weeks after his death, he apparently made 
his presence known to a group of friends through 
automatic writing. Some of these messages 
were shared with me, and one was addressed to 
me ; but I was not impressed, because I had come 
to believe that any communication destined for 
me would either come through direct experience 
or would be confirmed by inner impression, and 
no such evidence was forthcoming. I had no 

reason to expect a message from J , and I 

was not acquainted with his psychical quality. 
Surprising indeed then was an experience that 
came when I was conversing with a friend in 
great distress and in the midst of which I per- 
ceived a presence decidedly unlike that of A , 

whom I knew so well. 

One might ask what reason I had for accepting 
this presence as real. I answer by its quality 

and by the fact that J gave me his name, 

and that he came in a time of need to perform the 
same service he had done for people while in the 
flesh, namely, to help them overcome adverse 
conditions when the struggle was very great. 
There seemed no reason for doubt, and his help 
was most welcome, despite the fact that my gen- 
eral belief led me neither to desire nor to look for 

Direct Impressions 195 

any help or guidance save through endeavor to 
live by divine wisdom. No message came ex- 
cept the name by which this man was known. 
The rest was matter of feeling or presence. I 
was not attached to him personally. He held 
beliefs which I did not in any way share. Yet 
there was a common bond for the time being in 
the effort to free people in distress. 

A few months later, J came again, advis- 
ing me, but without words, not to take an im- 
portant step which I forthwith proceeded to take 
because I had little faith in his advice, although 
I regretted my decision. Once afterwards, 

J again sought to be influential. He came 

when I was absorbed in conversation with a 
friend, discussing a plan of action. Quick as a 
flash the message came into my mind amidst my 
own thoughts but unlike them in quality: "Don't 

do it, J ." This message was particularly 

interesting because wholly unlooked for, because 
it came without any warning impression to be 
still and make myself receptive, and because I 
was neither receptive nor still but intensely ac- 
tive. The experience tended to strengthen the 
growing conviction that any message or guidance 
that was intended for me would reach me in any 
event, under any circumstances whatever. Then 
this spirit passed apparently into another sphere 
and has never come again, so far as I know. 

196 The Open Vision 

The next advance brought to me the presence 

of a more enlightened spirit than either A 

or J , although accompanied by one of the 

type of A , that I might know the import of 

the presence. No words came this time. No 
cool wave upon the face preceded the experi- 
ence. I saw the form and perceived the light 
dimly, and intuitively received the clue or in- 
timation of the meaning I was to derive from 
the experience* The wisdom thus given me was 
unmistakable, for it pertained to a change of 
work which I did not then understand, and it was 
several months before its full import began to 
dawn upon me. I distinguished this experience 
from a vision which came at the age of eighteen 
and which disclosed to me the nature of my work, 
because the first vision was a symbolical repre- 
sentation of ideas given me by way of instruction 
without any evidence that a spiritual presence 
was giving it to me ; while the second was a vision 
of one who said nothing but whose presence was 
there to lead to a long train of thoughts. For 
all I know every vision of a mystical or semi-mys- 
tical nature may be induced in our spirits by an 
angel. But being by nature and training ex- 
tremely cautious about believing without direct 
inner evidence, I can only say that but once in 
a life-time has a vision of this sort come when I 
felt and saw the angelic presence. I must dis- 

Direct Impressions 197 

tinguish such an experience from an ordinary 
spiritual "uplift," from "cosmic consciousness" 
or mystic ecstasy, because of its quality. It was 
sufficiently moderate to enable me to apprehend 
its spirit without any of the mystic responses or 
emotions which have led devotees of mysticism 
in all ages to insist that mystic immediacy simply 
cannot be described. I hold, from experience, 
that such immediacy can be analyzed into its ele- 
ments, and that there is a great advantage in the 
coming of moderate visions, those that leave us 
in great inner clearness so that we may analyze 
them. Far less mystical than our superiors in 
this region of the inner life, by no means ecstatic, 
those of us who are moderate are able to avoid 
mysticism from the very beginning. We accord 
to the inner experience the privilege of develop- 
ing in its own way without intruding our own 
emotions. Those of us who have had two or 
three calmly moderate visions in the course of a 
life-time, and all these emphatically for a pur- 
pose, are able to connect them with what we be- 
lieve on other grounds in behalf of divine guid- 
ance; and thus we are able to escape being 
"visionary." 1 

By following such leadings one may cultivate 
the intellect to the full and become as sceptical as 

1 1 have developed this view at length in "The Philosophy of the 
Spirit," Chap. XII. 

198 The Open Vision 

one likes, yet find that the evidence for direct 
inner experiences is unmistakable and beyond 
all philosophical assault. By following such lead- 
ings one may live in the natural world like other 
men, eating one's three square meals a day, en- 
joying life in the open, in every way "normal." 
One concludes that the wisdom vouchsafed from 
a higher source is in every way right, not "super- 
normal," not implying that one's life is "ab- 
normal." For such guidance comes unsought 
amidst the usual activities, with which it does not 
in any way interfere. One neither seeks visions 
nor presences. One awaits the development 
of inner experience, however that experience may 
come. Thus there grows up a consciousness 
of the differing qualities of experience, and one 
learns to know these experiences that come for a 
purpose in contrast with any voluntary outreach- 
ing. If one has not even prayed for anything 
of the sort, one has the more reason for belief. 
For example, one learns from experience that 
sometimes on awakening at four o'clock in the 
morning the mind is thrown more readily into 
spiritual light. Plainly, there is less resistance 
on the part of the physical organism at such a 
time. Intellectually speaking the mind is less 
active. Finding the mind in a state of partial 
illumination, one can bring various matters into 
this light and gain insight into them. This state 

Direct Impressions 199 

does not seem to be induced by an angelic pres- 
ence, although it may be so. It may not come 
for any special reason, hence it is especially 
serviceable. One may seek light on questions at 

will, as long as the state continues. A used 

to say before he left us that if he could so arrange 
his life he would like to wake up at four o'clock 
every morning, that he might grow in spiritual 
knowledge. For he found that the illuminations 
which came at this hour exceeded those of all 

ordinary intuitions, and A was very intuitive 

in type. 

By experience once more, there has grown up 
the conviction that in case of extreme need, if 
I were obtuse and unyielding during the day, 
if all efforts to attract my attention were fruit- 
less, the mind could be awakened at four in the 
morning with the needed guidance or message. 
This is a very comforting belief in this over- 
active life of ours when, despite all our good in- 
tentions, we lose some of these inner powers for 
the time being, as the years pass. I hold this 
faith because on a notable occasion when I was 
externally absorbed and inwardly unreceptive 
when the mind otherwise seemed closed even to 

the presence of A , I was awakened three 

mornings in succession at four o'clock. The first 
two mornings I was still obtuse and unyielding. 
The third time my mind was sufficiently open 

200 The Open Vision 

so that I received the message at last, saw its 
wisdom and determined to act upon it at once. 
It was one of those crises when if ever in life 
one needed to be aroused, warned and emphatic- 
ally influenced. No similar experience has ever 
come again. But, as in the case of the warning 
of danger from an approaching train, mentioned 
in the foregoing chapter, there has been no similar 
need. This experience reinforced the conviction 
that what is for us will come. This being true, 
it is not necessary to seek these experiences. 
The most satisfactory aspect of them consists in 
their ideal possibility, in the fact that they might 
come if needed. In the absence of them one as- 
sumes that it is better to press on without them. 
For, plainly, we are left without distinct guid- 
ances when there is need for experience on our 
part. When the guidances come, they are for 
our best development; they do not deprive us of 
our freedom. 

That there may be help for us in our work 
without the least interference with our freedom, 
is well known among writers who have had evi- 
dences of assistance in producing books of direct 
value to humanity. Such helpfulness may be 
said to belong to the level next above automatic 
writing. That is to say, no words are dictated, 
there is no form of automatism, certainly no 
form of coercion or the desire to control. By 

Direct Impressions 201 

such "helpfulness" one means that a light is cast 
through our minds by which we may be more 
directly led to express our own ideas. In so far 
as our ideas coincide with those of our friends 
cooperating with us, the helpfulness may be in- 
creased. On occasion we may be more definitely 
aided, for example, in eliminating a statement 
not in accord with the spirit of the literary pro- 
duction as a whole. Yet such aid is in the nature 
of a suggestion simply, and one is perfectly free 
to disregard it. More writers and speakers may 
have been helped in this way than we realize. 
Those of us who are the more conscious of this 
inward assistance are able, perhaps, to propound 
an explanation for the benefit of others, namely, 
that there is communication through direct im- 

If we still prefer to believe and to say that such 
impressions are simply evidences of the working 
of intuition in us, there is no objection to be made. 
Those who would avoid spiritism in all its forms 
naturally would attribute all higher operations 
of their spirit to the immediate influx of divine 
wisdom. The difficulty in my own case would be 
that while for the most part this idea is simpler 
and seems to accord with most of the facts, oc- 
casionally an experience has come where the evi- 
dence, however analytically examined, has com- 
pelled me to believe that a spirit was present 

202 The Open Vision 

also. Ultimately speaking all efficiency belongs 
to the divine wisdom. But that wisdom is medi- 
ated to us, and it may well come through the in- 
strumentality of those in affinity with us in the 
spiritual world. 

Again, one might push as far as possible the 
hypothesis that the uprushes from below the 
threshold of consciousness account for the ideas 
to which we find ourselves giving expression, in 
cases where we have not consciously developed 
precisely those ideas. It is well at times to give 
full play to this hypothesis. I have done so. 
At other times I have been so absorbed in purely 
technical matters that for months I have not had 
so much as one experience of the nature of guid- 
ance or direct impression, for example, when en- 
gaged in the study of a philosophical subject re- 
quiring close concentration and the reading of 
abstruse works. But as I have looked back over 
such periods I have seen that there was no reason 
for aid from higher sources in any way, that my 
own mind was regularly producing by well es- 
tablished methods whatever my pen found to say. 
But no sooner have I finished such a piece of 
technical work and yielded to spontaneous im- 
pressions than inner activities have been re- 
sumed, and new evidences have come that the 
mind really is open to other sources. One could 
endeavor to drive out every vestige of evidence 

Direct Impressions 203 

of higher things. One possesses intellectual 
power enough. But the process would be like 
analyzing out of being the last trace of love, the 
last of those higher values which for many of us 
are the things supremely worth while. 

I had an experience one time of great value 
in this connection. I was present with one who 
lay apparently at the point of death, and natur- 
ally enough I wished to remain as calm and 
strong as possible, that I might be of real service. 
More vividly aware than ever before that any- 
thing I might say was insignificant in contrast 
with what one might feel if one could truly realize 
the divine presence, I experienced an incoming 
of rhythms such that I could have written a 
hymn. In fact, the first stanza of a new hymn 
came into my mind, but I could not then give 
attention to literary production. Reflecting on 
this experience when at leisure, it seemed that in 
apprehending these rhythms one was open to 
the universal element underlying all forms of 
inner spiritual helpfulness, including the activi- 
ties of * 'genius." Granted this interior openness 
on the part of individuals of different capacities 
and talents, one man would write verse, another 
would compose a symphony, another would 
paint, one would design, and so on through a 
long list. Each would express the rhythms in 
his own way, contributing the imagery, the Ian- 


204 The Open Vision 

guage and even the thought. If all were aware 
of the underlying element, all could compare 
notes on the universal or spiritual speech. The 
experience on its human side would in each case 
take the form of direct impression. This might 
be the universal element in all higher guidance. 
It might be the basis of communion with angels 
and spirits, save that actual words might be con- 
veyed in some instances also. Throwing the in- 
termediaries out of account, we would have 
spiritual communion in its simplest form. Tak- 
ing the different mediating means into account, 
we would have a principle on which to explain 
all genuine relationships with the spiritual world. 
In so far then as one has had evidence of the 
reality of direct impressions, one is in a position 
to acquire a spiritual standard by which to judge 
all psychical experiences. For it is the higher 
quality that is evidential, not the psychical ele- 
ment. To have this clue in some measure is to 
discern at least dimly the heavenly light into 
which we may lift all matters for their better 
testing. When the spontaneous illuminations 
come at four in the morning, we may observe and 
follow with the sure consciousness that a higher 
power is really active within us. And those who 
have not yet put to the test their belief in the 
nearness of the spiritual world may know how to 

Direct Impressions 205 

Doubt if you will the objective reality of the 
foregoing experiences, they were the ones which 
one individual followed during his formative 
years. In any case you have on your hands for 
explanation facts which withstood all sceptical 
tests. The outcome was a theory of guidance 
which one could live by, a theory that psychical 
experience is inner experience and may be fol- 
lowed to see whither it leads, quite apart from 
external associates and spiritism. Any one is 
free to interpret the facts in another way. One 
can never rightfully insist upon one's own ex- 
perience as authoritative. One may only say 
that the experiences yielded a certain spiritual 
value, chiefly personal, but similar on the whole 
to the values which others find in the inner life 
when they push through all refining analyses to 
the clear light of conviction. Belief in divine 
guidance would remain as the great value, even 
if one should come to doubt the reality of all al- 
leged presences and messages. The mind is of 
such a nature that it can be guided — that is the 
great fact. Other matters are secondary and 
depend on our type and on our work in the 
world. These matters may have transcendent 
value for us, indeed we may have had visions 
which almost overwhelmed us with their beauty 
and truth. But it is the universal element which 
may be shared, which each may come to know 

206 The Open Vision 

and to fest in his own way. If found within the 
soul, it can be found elsewhere too. Hence one 
is not limited by personal experience and may 
regard it as chiefly formative and preliminary 
to deeper knowledge of the divine love and 



If we conclude that psychical experiences are 
known by inner impression, our first need is for 
a philosophy of inner impressions which shall do 
justice to the spiritual life, with its guidances, 
its ideals, its relationships. The starting-point 
is with the soul or spirit and its powers, the world 
of experience implied in the spiritual life on its 
inner side. We may proceed with the develop- 
ment of such a philosophy on the basis of inner 
impressions, just as we construct a philosophy of 
our relationship with nature on the basis of outer 
or sense-impressions. We are well aware that 
there are rival philosophies of the relationship 
of the soul to nature, such as empiricism and ra- 
tionalism, idealism and materialism. So too 
there are rival interpretations of the soul's re- 
lationship to the spiritual world, although our 
thought is very immature in this direction. On 
the whole, most of us who proceed thoughtfully 
are likely to adopt a philosophy akin to empiri- 
cism, that is, one in which experience takes the 
lead, which shapes itself gradually in our minds 
during the passing years. What we most object 
to is any doctrine or dogma which undertakes 


208 The Open Vision 

to define in advance what we may know and what 
we may expect by way of inner experience. If 
we have narrowed our own experiences down to 
inner impressions awaiting interpretation, we are 
in a position to follow wherever truth shall lead. 
We note for one thing that inner impressions, 
like sense-impressions acquainting us with sounds 
and sights in nature, are neutral. Telepathy, 
for example, is obviously neutral. It might take 
place between thieves, for all we know. Ap- 
parently, self-love could as readily give expres- 
sion to mental transfer as disinterested love. It 
is not a question of good and evil till we look 
more deeply into the inner life. For, we must 
distinguish ordinary communications between 
mind and mind, which we may compare to vibra- 
tion in the world of sound ; and harmonious com- 
munication of a spiritual type, which we call 
rhythm. We are well acquainted with this dis- 
tinction in the case of physical sensations. Dis- 
cords, for example, may be as readily transmitted 
by sound waves as music or harmony. The at- 
mosphere surrounding our earth is neutral and 
free. So is ordinary human speech. Hence we 
learn to penetrate beneath it to real intentions 
and inner sentiments. Our intonations are only 
in part rhythmical. Much of the time we talk 
prose, often a very harsh prose. The same is 
true of our life as a whole. Telepathy should 

Inner Perception 209 

reveal this fact more deeply and truly than we 
have ever understood it. But telepathy may 
ascend from level to level in the mental world. 
Between spiritually minded people in affinity it 
becomes, rhythmical, harmonious, poetic. An 
inharmonious vibration would hurt or jar. The 
ideal is to overcome all inharmonies within one- 
self, that one may send out only "harmonious 
waves of rhythm," that one may speak the lan- 
guage of heaven. 

To the extent that I differentiate between dis- 
cord and harmony in my own life, I am likely 
to detect the contrast in other people. As I ad- 
vance, I of course seek to overcome all smallness 
of spirit, all envy, hate, bitterness, sarcasm, ad- 
verse criticism and condemnation. These men- 
tal states belong on the level of mere vibrations, 
are negative, destructive. In their stead, I try 
to cultivate largeness of spirit, charity, sym- 
pathy, disinterested affection. These states be- 
long on the level of rhythm and open the spirit 
to spiritual power. The more these states rise 
into power in my life the less thought need be 
given to discords. These I may pass by as we 
would turn from mere noise to musric in the 
natural world. What interests us is music, har- 
mony, rhythm. What we need is a standard or 
ideal by which to attune our spirits to the higher 

210 The Open Vision 

While then inner impression in itself is merely 
immediate or given, and simply awaits interpre- 
tation, our consciousness naturally becomes more 
and more selective. As we ascend the mental 
scale from the psychical into the spiritual, w r e 
realize that desirable inner impressions belong 
with integrity and beauty of character. The 
mere fact of having inner impressions counts for 
very little. The merest "psychic" or sensitive 
might have an impressionability far surpassing 
that of a person of culture and refinement. In- 
deed a psychic might have clairvoyant power 
which would make us almost envious. But there 
might be little intelligence, no refinement, and 
hence no power to distinguish between discord 
and harmony in the inner world. What we want 
is not mere clairvoyance but insight and the 
ability to bring uplifting influences into daily 
life. Hence we distinguish between mere clair- 
voyance and seership, between mere impressions 
and intuitions. Insight requires intelligence. 
Intuition belongs with ideals. It is "the pure 
in heart" who shall see God. 

Let us say then that inner impressions call for 
inner perception, and that by inner perception 
we mean a unifying, clarifying or interpretative 
power by which we pass beyond mere receptivity 
to active use and development. Inner percep- 
tion is an activity of the human spirit in its less 

Inner Perception 211 

dependent guise, that is, more free from the body, 
more open to spiritual life, to the divine love and 
wisdom. In fact, inner perception unites us with 
the divine mind so that we often think and will 
and love better than we know, so that we become 
open to guidances surpassing self-conscious 
thought. In inner perception we transcend our 
bothersome self-consciousness and forget our- 
selves, that is, attain to higher levels, respond to 
purer motives. 

By the operation of inner perception in its 
purest form, a person would intuitively know 
what is right and what is true without being in- 
structed. He would at once know what wisdom 
is divine, what human; what love is from God, 
what is from man. By it man would intuitively 
realize that in God he lives, and moves, and has 
his being ; not in his mere self. Hence he would 
take no credit to himself for power or wisdom. 
By it a man would know what is inner and what 
is outer in his experience, would intuitively dis- 
criminate the spiritual world from the natural. 
This perception would disclose the inward light 
regarded as heavenly or divine in origin, the 
light which yields spontaneous insights, guid- 
ances ; that is, it would be the channel in general 
of what we call illuminations, inspiration, revela- 
tion. It is the power of the open vision, and 
such vision is "open" because immediate, direct 

212 The Open Vision 

or intuitive; in contrast with external observa- 
tion, analysis, inference, the forming of hypothe- 
ses and arriving at conclusions based on natural 
facts and limited by facts. There are "facts" 
too for inner perception, but these are clothed in 
beauty and illumined by a light which overcomes 
ell mere prose and the halting efforts of our 
painful self-consciousness. 

In the golden age of inner perception man has 
no need either of doctrines or books, but possesses 
the divine Word in his heart. Later, indeed per- 
ception may mean knowledge of the true and the 
good based on wisdom previously acquired. But 
we think of it in its purity as disclosing by im- 
mediate vision "the way, the truth, and the life." 
In its best estate it yields the unblemished reality 
itself "by an internal way," whereas that use of 
spiritual wisdom which leads to the formulation 
of doctrine is by an external way, namely, 
through the employment of intellectual terms 
and figures of speech adapted to the age. In 
its best estate man also has constant corrobora- 
tion of the truth which has been previously dis- 
closed to him, so that he constantly knows spirit- 
ual realities and can always turn to them. 

By the operation of inner perception man 
might have guidance from infancy to manhood 
in what is good and true, initiation from within 

Inner Perception 213 

into all the wisdom and power needed for living 
"the fulness of life." Thus if man kept the open 
vision in its purity he would need no other source 
of instruction, would steadily and actively possess 
within himself the realities of faith, the ground 
of all true hope, the source of all belief in God, 
freedom, and immortality. Man would then be- 
lieve in spiritual realities as matter of course, that 
is, as a consequence ; instead of arriving at belief 
as a conclusion. If presented with a book such 
as the Bible he would know what there is in it 
of divine goodness and truth through prior pos- 
session of the same goodness and truth in im- 
mediate form. The goodness and truth would 
therefore be self -revealing. There would be no 
need to reason from facts alone, since the mind 
would possess the principles which explain facts. 
The mind thus quickened would believe in God 
and speak of God because of intuitive awareness 
of the divine presence as a living reality in the 
actual present, in contrast with any claim in be- 
half of historical revelation. Freedom would be 
taught as a possession because of immediate 
awareness of it. Belief in immortality would 
spring from touch with eternal reality within the 
soul. Sight or possession would be the equiva- 
lent of "proof" and would be very much more. 
Yet no one possessing such sight would deem 

214 The Open Vision 

i ii ■ 1. 1 j— — — — .— . — , 

himself especially gifted or wise in his own mere 
self, since "the understanding heart" would dis- 
close to the one eternal source of wisdom. 

Such perception would be both immediate and 
compelling to the one apprehending its dis- 
closures, and communicative in relation to other 
men possessing it. From it there would spring 
spiritual speech which would be intuitively known 
by both speaker and listener, for both would have 
the law "written on the heart" which would give 
direct evidence of the realities communicated. 
Both would be able to live from this interior 
revelation, and life in accordance with it would 
be heaven on earth, that is, life on earth from 
heaven. This social revelation would in a word 
disclose the revelation behind all revelations, and 
yield the universal reason for the existence of 
scriptures, for belief in God, freedom, and im- 
mortality, wherever these beliefs are found on 
our earth. 

We need not presuppose a golden age of any 
extent or enlightened men of great number pos- 
sessing the open vision. The open vision in the 
period which led to the writing of scriptures and 
the giving to the world of spiritual teachings in 
the far past may have been childlike or primitive 
in form. All we need presuppose is sufficient 
perception to account for such teachings as we 
possess, sufficient to give us the ideal of the open 

Inner Perception 215 

vision as man's purest response to the divine 
mind and heart. For us it is not a question of 
the past but of the possibility of awakening out 
of our dogmatic slumbers into inner perception 
as a reality today. The mere fact that we pos- 
sess the ideal is profoundly significant. The 
more thoughtfully we consider the ideal the more 
reasons we find for holding fast to it, the less we 
care for the doctrinal substitutes which have been 
imposed upon the world. 

What was the next step supposably taken by 
man after he had enjoyed the open vision? The 
term "inner dictate" has been used to character- 
ize the residue in the period when man became 
self-conscious, interested in his own powers, 
aware of inner conflict, in need of conscience and 
of doctrine or moral commandments. That is, 
conscience ' "dictates" that there is truth and 
righteousness, but leaves man to discover what 
is right and what is true. It bids man meditate, 
consider, putting higher motives over against 
lower. Through it man learns that he must take 
responsibility. His better nature rises up in 
protest despite the fact that he has become im- 
mersed in the world and has yielded to self-love. 
Reason ' "dictates," we say, that this or that 
is right because the moral law decrees it, "be- 
cause the Bible says so," or because society so 
decrees. Thus reason tends to be more and more 

216 The Open Vision 

" " * »—■■■■'■■■ » ■■■■— ■ l»^—— ■■ 1 II ■! ■ I II . ■■■ ■■■!■ ,— ■.. , | l. M l ... .■,,-.. | ■■■■.. !■!■ » ■ | ._ , I — 

external, and man ceases to act from inward 
awareness based on experience. Thus too au- 
thority becomes more and more external, until 
finally it degenerates into the mere word of those 
who stand for it in the churches and other in- 
stitutions. "Thou shalt not" is now the com- 
mandment. Doctrine takes the place of vision. 
Priests take the place of seers. The churches 
take the place of God. History usurps the place 
of the eternal present. No one knows what inner 
perception is. It has become a mere question 
of doctrines and their interpretation. The au- 
thority on spiritual matters is the one skilled in 
interpretation. A really enlightened interpreter 
would recover the idea of the "inner dictate," 
and following this clue would work his way back 
to inner perception. Thus the seer would lead 
men back to the sources of spiritual belief and 
encourage people to look within, to meditate, to 
break free from authority and tradition. The 
spiritual history of the race is just such an alter- 
nating of periods of doctrine and seership. Thus 
in the course of time we come to see the meaning 
of history and to acquire a standard, a "sense" 
for spiritual truth. 

We pass through similar periods of change 
or development in many of our interests and voca- 
tions. Thus a person possessing "a musical ear" 
has a power akin to the open vision, and then 

Inner Perception 217 

through training acquires a dictate or standard 
which enables him to estimate musical composi- 
tions according to the acuteness of his aesthetic 
intuition. By a "gift" or talent, by "genius" we 
always mean something akin to the open vision, 
that is, the power or talent in its native purity ; 
and we are endlessly discussing the relative values 
of genius and training, talent and discipline. 
The standards by which most of us judge are 
partly native to us, partly acquired, and it is 
difficult to tell what is really innate, what is due 
to education. Suffice it that sooner or later in 
any field where man attains excellence he pos- 
sesses or acquires a standard. Thus the literary 
artist has an eye and ear for beauty of form in 
spoken or written discourse. He may become 
so acute as a student of a great writer like 
Shakespeare that he can tell in a flash what lines 
in Shakespeare's plays have been introduced by 
another hand, what ones came from the hand of 
the master. Such a literary faculty is not ex- 
actly a feeling, an idea, or an experience; it is 
rather an implicit standard borne within the 
spirit whereby one knows at a glance and knows 

If one has had experience of religious realities 
one carries a certain implicit something by which 
worship in a given church is tested, faith is dis- 
cerned for what it may be worth according to 

218 The Open Vision 

one's enlightenment, and a value is put upon 
charity or service. Moral experience lays down 
a certain wealth in us in the same way. We ap- 
preciate in others what life has taught through 
us in our touch with moral integrity, our con- 
tact with people of uprightness, people who have 
the courage of their convictions. We naturally 
recall what we have seen and felt and heard, and 
this sums itself into a whole as a means of testing 
what is just, and what is right. We possess as 
our own whatever has been taught us at home, 
in school or church, or what we have learned from 
the Bible, only so far as life thus gives it back 
to us as a standard emphasized by experience. 
The rest is mere theory. 

A musician catching a theme such as that of 
Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" and hearing 
the whole as it were in an intuition, may be said 
to be in a state of mind comparable to that of 
inner perception. The symphony orchestra, play- 
ing Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony," may also be 
said to be in touch with musical reality at first 
hand. So are we in a measure when we listen 
and seem to rise above mere space and time in 
touch with "the world of appreciation," the world 
of values or Platonic Ideas. Later, bearing the 
memory within our spirits as the years pass, we 
have a standard or dictate. People hearing us 
tell what we have heard in "the world of wonder- 

Inner Perception 219 

ful reality" are in a state comparable to that of 
listeners in a church hearing the minister tell his 
views of what some one in authority has said by 
way of interpretation of authorized doctrines ac- 
cepted on tradition. We often wonder why a 
symphony concert impresses us as so much nearer 
perfection than religious services, save perhaps 
the music. Here is the reason. Music is still pro- 
duced by those who are in touch with first-hand I 
sources, while religion is often discussed at third 
hand and exemplified in a corresponding remote-/ 
ness from reality. 

If we did not possess vestiges of inner percep- 
tion we would not of course be so disappointed 
with the churches. We intuitively know far 
more than we realize. We scarcely dare even to 
think because it is not popular or is not permis- 
sible. We might acquire a spiritual standard of 
our own, by venturing to believe in inner experi- 
ence, and we might recover the vestiges of inner 
perception. Then the golden age would be no 
mere tradition but an ideal for active pursuit. 
We might acquire a philosophy of inner per- 
ception, and thereby grow into the ability to in- 
terpret this whole field of psychical reality which 
has been so long misunderstood. 

Man, let us remind ourselves once more, is a 
spirit dwelling in the spiritual world, in the in- 
teriors of his selfhood. It is normal to know 

220 The Open Vision 

heavenly reality at first hand. It is normal to 
acquire truth and to receive guidance at first 
hand. We need build no walls between our- 
selves and the eternal world. By implication, 
our desires and ideals are already direct expres- 
sions within our spirits of heavenly reality seek- 
ing to make itself known. We should be as free 
to believe in that reality and to respond to it as 
to open our mouths and sing or to play upon a 
musical instrument. Even if our spiritual eyes 
are not in any sense open, something in our inner 
nature is open, we may at least respond in 
spiritual feeling. By this feeling we already 
know through subtle affinity what is sound and 
what is true in many of the people we meet. By 
it we are drawn and repelled. What is needed 
is recognition of the activity of this higher power 
in us and responsiveness to it. 

All that we need is a clue or leading, some 
indication of inner impressions yielding guid- 
ances. For out of the clue may come truth with- 
out limit, out of the initial guidance may come 
leadings extending through a period of years. 
Then we may learn to let the guidances come in 
their own sequence, interposing no obstacles, 
making no effort to shape them to our own ends. 
Still further, we may learn to do creative work, 
letting each detail develop as a musician might 
develop a symphony out of an original theme. 

Inner Perception 221 

Thus inner perception may accompany us as a 
standard throughout the years to the completion 
of our work on earth, as the composer perfects 
his theme till every note is complete in the fin- 
ished symphony. 

A standard tells us both what is sound and 
true, and what is spurious. In spiritual matters 
it gives us a certain ear for that which "rings 
true." Our spirits grow in power to follow 
"leadings*" We learn to listen more deeply, 
truly, with less interference of intellect or will. 
We are more confident that we really receive 
guidances, over and above our mere thought. 
We are no longer troubled by doubts lest in our 
inadvertent subconsciousness we have generated 
the whole content of these inner deliverances. 
We are not only aware by experience that a 
guidance has a certain quality but also aware of 
the fruits or results. 

Thus our thought passes beyond the region 
of doubts and difficulties. We had to pass 
through that period because our intellectual 
training made us critical, and because there is 
much that is spurious on the road from the psychi- 
cal into the spiritual. But now at last we have 
reached a period where, believing unqualifiedly 
in intuition and daring to follow the clues which 
our experience has yielded, we appeal directly to 
the inner standard and ask, Does my inner self 

222 The Open Vision 

give assent? Does this teaching ring true? 
Does it accord with the best my life and thought 
have yielded? For what is foreign to my inner 
constitution is no concern of mine. What is for 
me I am likely to acknowledge at once. Many 
other matters I may pass by as of no more mo- 
ment than mere noise. What is really for me 
belongs 'with my guidances, for these have a 
coherence or unity not of my own making. Far 
indeed from me is the open vision in its purity. 
But I at least contemplate it as an ideal. I am 
not cut off from the realities which it discloses. 
I possess at least a residue of inner perception, 
awaiting recognition and development. Best of 
all, I see at least in a glass darkly that this is a 
residue of the divine presence. As a child of 
God, made in the divine image and likeness, my 
very nature is akin to the Reality of realities 
whence has come the true, the beautiful, and the 



By the term "guidance" one means an impres- 
sion, leading, prompting or warning which either 
indicates the wise course to pursue or restrains 
us, bids us take thought and direct our efforts 
more carefully. Guidance may come spontane- 
ously, unsought and unexpected, in the form of a 
positive check or a premonition; or, it may be 
consciously sought through conditions with which 
we become acquainted when impressions or warn- 
ing come spontaneously. In the latter case, it is 
usually sought through silence and meditation, 
by receptive listening or waiting, and by taking 
the whole matter in question under advisement 
amid the conditions most favorable for dispas- 
sionate thought. It may come in response to a 
half-felt desire on our part or in answer to 
prayer. It may pertain to the incidental action 
of the moment or to the purpose one seeks to 
realize in a life-time. It may come like a vision 
out of a clear sky or amidst conditions which when 
intimately understood disclose the way to seek 
it consciously. It is best understood in the long 
run by reference to its sources, the channels 


224 The Open Vision 

through which it comes, and its meaning in con- 
nection with a spiritual philosophy of life. We 
may also study it in relation to man's higher 
nature as qualified by the personal equation, for 
we find that in some people the coming of guid- 
ance is a strongly marked characteristic implying 
unusual receptivity or special fitness. 

Guidance believed in as divine in origin im- 
plies the living presence of God with us, as in 
biblical times, through the Spirit made concrete 
to man in the developments of inner experience. 
Thus regarded, guidance implies a purpose for 
each of us inclusive of all that is essential to our 
eternal welfare and work. The basis of guid- 
ance is therefore the divine providence conceived 
of as a continuous manifestation of love and 
wisdom for our care and preservation. As thus 
understood guidance exists for all men whether 
there be any awareness of it or not, since we all 
belong to one spiritual race, with the possibility 
of becoming brothers and co-workers in actual 
consciousness. Regarded as social, guidance in- 
volves our relatedness to one another in the inner 
world, and hence it is known by its high quality. 

The presence of God with us as providence 
or guiding and sustaining Spirit includes what 
is known as spiritual light, "the inward 
light" as it is usually called. To obtain divine 
guidance is to lift our problems into that light 

How to Know Inner Guidance 225 

with the admission that there is a higher way than 
our own. To be led by the Spirit is to perceive 
the heavenly light on life's pathway. There is 
in deepest truth a way of life, a pathway of the 
soul leading from the infancy of our experience 
to maturity. To know that light which shines 
on our pathway in its fulness would be to be- 
hold heavenly reality face to face, in the open 
vision. The inward light if faithfully followed 
would lead us to the reality behind all appear- 
ances in such a way that we should individually 
know it, feel it, live by it; and have no need for 
secondary sources of instruction on spiritual mat- 
ters save as reminders. 

The inward light, humanly speaking, is the 
individual's participation in that heavenly light 
which, like the sun, shines universally. The 
source is the same for all. The human spirit re- 
ceives what it may under the prevailing condi- 
tions. The light is divine but it is mediated to 
man through his own nature and the states of 
life through which he passes. Man listens with 
the inner ear, thinks with his spirit, responds 
through the promptings of the heart. Then his 
inward prompting takes shape through his men- 
tality and his outward life. 

It might be said that guidance is simply the 
awakening of our own higher nature. Plainly, 
some of our deeper incentives to action arise from 

226 The Open Vision 

within the self, especially when our better nature 
is aroused in protest. Thus Emerson assures us 
that "the soul's emphasis is always right." "That 
is right which is according to my constitution, 
that is wrong which is against it." "The soul 
contains in itself the event which shall presently 
befall it, for the event is only the actualization of 
its thoughts. It is no wonder that particular 
dreams and presentiments should fall out and be 
prophetic." But one might overdo this individ- 
ualism. It is imperative that one consider how 
our guidances relate to the welfare of other 
people and accord with what other people are led 
to do. We have also to consider the nature and 
sources of those guidances which bring evidence 
of relationship to the divine presence as the real 
efficiency of the inner life. Naturally we explain 
as many experiences as possible on the basis of 
our own intuitions, just as we take into account 
the deliverances of our subconsciousness. But, 
again, we are minded to ask, What is the ultimate 
basis of intuition? 

As I have tried to show in a lengthy discussion 
elsewhere, 1 the line between ordinary thought and 
guidance is difficult to draw. Guidance is essen- 
tially an experience. It is obtainable through 
the whole mind, and when one seeks it one brings 
to the experience whatever wisdom lif e has given 

i "The Philosophy of the Spirit," p. 300. 

How to Know Inner Guidance 227 

us up to that time. Hence in a large sense of 
the word it may simply be a clue or leading for 
its recipient to follow according to what life has 
previously taught him to believe. Much will de- 
pend upon the interpretation which he puts upon 
his leadings. The same experience which one 
man would interpret as a guidance, another 
would explain as a mere instance of inductive 
reasoning. Yet we need not be disconcerted be- 
cause there are varying interpretations or by the 
fact that many people are totally unaware of 
guidances. In the life of those who follow the 
developments of experience with observant re- 
sponsiveness, without desire to control where con- 
trol would be an intrusion, there are unmistak- 
able signs of guidance, signs which lead to the 
classification of impressions and leadings accord- 
ing to types. Thus guidance is classified with 
reference to its sources, the means through which 
it comes or the ends to which it leads. Its origin 
may be obscure to us at first, but we may have 
strong reasons for distinguishing it from ordi- 
nary thought. Or the result to which it leads 
may be so impressive that we are led retrospec- 
tively to its origins with new insights into the 
providence of God. 

Guidances are knowable by their quality, and 
through the fact that they are capable of being 
tested in contrast with mere inclination, desire or 

228 The Open Vision 

self-interest. Thus a guidance, coming unex- 
pectedly like a gift from a person who knows our 
inner or urgent need, may bring a certain 
conviction that it is from beyond our mere 
selfhood. This may be either on account 
of its disinterestedness, because it is social, 
pertains to the welfare of other people and 
lifts us above all petty motives; or because 
it checks our proposed action sufficiently to give 
us a wholly different view, because it calls us to 
account, stands out in unmistakable authority 
and power. Again, we recognize guidance be- 
cause it comes infrequently, when especially 
needed or at the eleventh hour, when we have 
drawn upon every resource at hand, when faith 
has done its best. Often too, its coming is an 
instance of such precise correspondence between 
supply and demand that we are deeply impressed 
by its implications. People engaged in religious 
work have most impressive experiences to tell 
about resources put into their hands from un- 
expected directions when they most needed what 
came. Sometimes the relationship is precise to 
the very dollar. 

Thus guidances often point to a spiritual con- 
nection between people working together toward 
the same end, and a relationship with those in 
need whom they can help, which reaches beyond 
all consciously acquired information. Guid- 

How to Know Inner Guidance 229 

ances coming to the same individual in the course 
of twenty years or half a life-time may so prove 
to belong together as to point very directly to the 
divine purpose, in an ideal direction which is seen 
to be best or wisest in contrast with all appear- 
ances. Therefore one is prompted to make 
fewer plans as the years pass, and to hold more 
matters open for true solution through guidance 
when the time shall come. In our eagerness and 
impatience we would like to know just how we 
are to reach our goal. The fact that guidance 
is so long withheld but that it comes in time, in- 
dicates its character or quality. 

Moreover, guidance not only leaves us full op- 
portunity for experience by withholding much 
that we would like to know till the time comes, 
but grants us a chance to make mistakes, and by 
disregarding its leadings to see how strong and 
true they were after all. Guidance does not 
coerce us. It leaves us free. It appeals to our 
freedom and in no way absolves us from respon- 
sibility. There is still room for faith. In fact 
one must often proceed more or less in the dark, 
awaiting the developments of each day when the 
day comes. Faith is required to believe in guid- 
ance in the first place, and every act of respon- 
siveness to it is an act of faith. Guidance always 
comes as an alternative which might be rejected. 
It appeals to individuality. It grows more pro- 

230 The Open Vision 

nounced with recognition or wanes if ignored 
and denied entrance. It indicates a way in which 
we may walk, if we will, with successive leadings 
for successive steps ; but we may continue to try 
our own way if we prefer. Thus guidance 
stands out in the course of years because it per- 
tains to our eternal welfare, what is spiritually 
essential, leaving us free to add the particulars as 
we proceed. By its presence we come to realize 
more clearly that there really is "a way ever- 

Those who note the contrasts of inner experi- 
ence and learn to listen for leadings also find that 
guidance increases with use, becomes more im- 
pressive and effective with the passing of time. 
Thus the conviction grows that there is always 
with us a true inward light by which ideas and 
plans may be tested. Naturally the increasing 
definiteness of guidance depends to some extent 
on the interpretation put upon it, hence if be- 
lieved in as divine the recipient makes more ef- 
fort to purify the inner life that guidance may 
come in purer form. Then too something de- 
pends on one's view of success in the world. 
If one believes that true success means fidelity 
to the divine purpose, more effort is made to over- 
come every obstacle which might interfere with 
guidance in its purity. 

Guidance in the higher sense of the word may 

How to Know Inner Guidance 231 

also be known by contrast with other mental ac- 
tivities, for example, what we call prudence. By 
noting bodily sensations such as fatigue, we infer 
that we need rest or change. We also take our 
clues from nerve-impressions indicating tension, 
excitement, disturbance of the normal rhythms, 
and impeding conditions of the brain. We do 
not always take rest, food, or sleep when needed ; 
but the conditions are present which show the 
need. In the same way the body warns us 
against inordinate desire, carnal passions, excess 
in all its forms. The instinct of self-preserva- 
tion is strong in us, and any number of signs 
which, if heeded, would guard us from emotional 
excitement and other detrimental states. We 
discover tendencies to relax in case of injury to 
the organism, also other promptings that help 
us to overcome pain. The knowledge from ex- 
perience which we gain by being prudent and 
observant aids us to acquire the art of life with 
regard to bodily welfare. But all knowledge 
gained in this way is mere subject-matter for 
guidance in its higher form. Observing, for 
example, that the body needs rest, that the 
nervous system is exhausted, we take the need 
"under advisement," awaiting the opportunity 
which guidance discloses in its own way, in its 
own time. Guidance may be akin to instinct, but 
it yields far more. Bodily instinct often relates 

232 The Open Vision 

to physical self-preservation alone and might be 
harmonious with selfishness. (Guidance relates 
to spiritual service and leads to unselfishness.}, ^ 
Life in general under guidance might be com- 
pared to a journey through a forest. Some- 
times there are roads plainly marked, sometimes 
mere paths. Again, the way is obscure, the 
paths cross and one must proceed tentatively. 
With a general direction in mind, we endeavor 
to keep the way, each according to his experience 
and insight, his knowledge of life and its leadings 
at various junctures. Coming to a place where 
the roads divide, we pause to observe and con- 
sider. Some men judge largely by signs and in- 
dications and by what they know in general about 
the woods. Some proceed experimentally, now 
on this path, now on that, awaiting evidences 
that point to the right one. The more open- 
minded ones try by inner impression to discover 
the right direction, while a few with a directness 
akin to that of the Indian who has kept unspoiled 
the instincts of primitive man turn to the right 
road without hesitation. Becoming more accus- 
tomed to the whole experience of finding our way, 
some of us make our way through thick woods, 
over hills and across mountains where there are 
no paths. We depend less upon signs and 
guesses or inferences, and more on intuition or 
inward impression. The higher the form of 

How to Know Inner Guidance 233 

guidance the less need there is for external obser- 
vation and inference. 

Guidance, like the promptings of instinct, is 
discovered in the first place through spontaneous 
impressions, such as the feeling that a given road 
is right, a prompting to look in a certain place 
for a lost article, or a sudden warning of 
approaching danger, "a feeling in the bones." 
Again, it may be a first-hand impression of 
human character, favorable or unfavorable. We 
may have a feeling that a surprise is in store for 
us, that a change is coming into our life, a great 
sorrow or joy, yet we may be unable as yet to 
tell what the forthcoming event or change is to 
be or when it is coming. A deterring impression 
regarding a proposed plan of action may arise, 
but without any reason for it. A reaction may 
arise within the self against the work we are en- 
gaged in, although we are still unaware why our 
better selfhood should protest against it. Thus 
a deterring impression may disclose the fact that 
we stand at the parting of the ways, howbeit we 
have no idea what is in store for us. Those of 
us who note and welcome these spontaneous im- 
pressions and follow them, find that guidance 
in its distinctive sense presently discloses itself. 

The believer in guidance awaits impressions 
which shall indicate whether a proposed plan of 
action be right. "If the way opens," we hear 

234 The Open Vision 

l" ■■ il ■ l l l ■— — —-■.■ n il ii ill. ■ <m .— — ■■ ■ — ■■■■■ — ■■■■■ ill I ii ■■ ■ ■■■■—■> T — . i i i i ■ — ■■— . — , .. , . 

them say, let us go on; if it does not open, we 
shall know that it is not right. If one is 
prompted to proceed despite all promising signs, 
one concludes that it is because there is a wisdom 
in pressing on till a more distinct leading shall 
indicate the way. Unexpectedly the way may 
open for the realization of an ideal cherished for 
many years but not insisted upon in one's own 
mere selfhood. One may have what some one 
called "a wave of happiness" as a sign that the 
way or plan just embarked on is the right one. 
One may even "see" oneself engaged in a partic- 
ular work under contemplation, or may see one- 
self actually arrived at the desired destination. 
From this strong impression one may conclude 
that the way is indeed right. 

Some believers in guidance say that when they 
have a "conviction" that a way under consider- 
ation is the right one to embark on they know 
they should go ahead, and that each step will 
disclose itself when the time comes. Hence they 
confidently anticipate success, even in the face 
of circumstances which point to failure. Accord- 
ingly, they lay aside the anxieties which beset 
most of us and give their minds more fully to the 
inner leadings, realizing that both receptivity and 
faith are essential. 

Furthermore, knowledge of guidance increases 
with study, by endeavoring to work out the laws 

How to Know Inner Guidance 235 

which they imply, to think out the philosophy of 
life which they call for. Retrospect may show, 
for example, that guidances came from stage to 
stage of one's journey when needed at the time, 
with sufficient wisdom for those occasions, and 
so one may increase faith in the principle of sup- 
ply and demand, looking elsewhere in life for 
confirmations of this principle. 

One may supplement these studies by contacts 
with nature. We learn, for example, the value 
of returning for a time to the simple life in which 
we drop out of our tensions. Walking in the 
woods alone, or otherwise adapting ourselves to 
conditions that bring rest and freedom, we at 
the same time observe without realizing it the 
inner conditions which bring to us the guidance 
which could not arise into our consciousness 
while we were so actively absorbed in the world 
of external affairs. Such contrasts make us 
better acquainted with guidance as opposed to 
any plan of our own. Help may come to us 
through any change of scene or environment, 
from city to country or back again from country 
to city ; in a crowd or away from " the madding 
crowd;" through travel or by learning to be truly 
"at home." Different ones of us have our ways 
of dropping out of our over-activities, that we 
may pick up the detached lines of activity, come 
to ourselves, return to our spontaneity, get a 

236 The Open Vision 

fresh impetus; and make ready to be more true 
to guidance. Every one who becomes progress- 
ively aware of guidance, learns how to rise above 
conditions and processes, above localisms and 
associates, in quest of new perspectives and broad- 
ened vision. 

"Commune with your own heart upon your 
bed and be still," says the psalmist. Turn from 
outward matters with a sense of turning to some- 
thing very high and noble, with quiet inner ex- 
pectancy. Believe convincingly that what is in 
line with your high purpose in life will disclose 
itself, that the way will open. Be ready to re- 
ceive light through any instrumentality, yet 
above all expect it from the highest source. If 
your guidances in the past have come in connec- 
tion with an uplifting consciousness indicating 
the presence of higher power, endeavor to regain 
this consciousness as a means to the guidance you 
would now seek. Consecrate yourself anew, 
willing to forego even the most cherished plan, 
ready to change your residence, your occupation, 
your co-workers, and any condition that may 
not be in full accord with the divine purpose for 

You may learn to know guidance from all its 
opposites, if you will. You may find that as it 
comes in the course of the years it classifies itself 
under various heads or types, so that your phil- 

How to Know Inner Guidance 237 

osophy of guidance will enlarge to fit your ex- 
perience. Most guidances may seem to call for 
no further agency than your own intuition or in- 
ner perception. But others may bring evid- 
ences that the divine presence is more intimately 
with you. Still others may seem to come to you 
through intimate relationship with those akin 
to you. Thus a friend may come to you, with a 
warning or advice, which is like a word from 
heaven to you, although the friend may be un- 
aware of serving as a messenger to your soul. A 
whole chapter in your life may stand out from 
all others because of guidances coming in what 
we call "a remarkable way." Or, more rarely, a 
guidance may associate itself with the spiritual 
world. Whatever the channels or instrumental- 
ities, there is one ultimate source. He comes to 
know guidance best who comes to know God most 

Many guidances doubtless come to us through 
psychical means. Probably all guidances have 
psychical associates or relationships. But it is 
a question of the criterion or standard and that 
is the open vision. It is a question of the source 
and the providence or purpose and that is divine. 
Hence we may place little stress on the means 
or instrumentality. Undoubtedly the best result 
that can come to those of us who have made our 
way through the thickets of the psychical world 

238 The Open Vision 

— — ^— ■ 1 1 i i ————————— 

is our faith in guidance. For guidance not only 
gives a working principle to live by but a prin- 
ciple by which to interpret inner perception or 
the open vision wherever found, it not only dis- 
closes the meaning of man's spiritual history on 
earth but reveals the pathway into the future life. 



There is a certain attitude of mind which sets 
itself squarely against any effort to return to the 
original sources of guidance. Everything that 
men should know concerning spiritual matters 
is said to be contained within the creeds and doc- 
trines of the particular church to which the rep- 
resentative of this attitude chances to belong. 
The doctrines are said to be inerrant, the church 
in question a divine institution to be accepted as 
found. There could not be errors of doctrine 
because in God's providence all errors were pre- 
vented. To question the creeds would be to 
follow the dictates of one's own intellect. To 
question the authority of the church would be 
blasphemous. The intellect likes to rule and is 
reluctant to yield supremacy. It accepts what is 
pleasing and is fond of searching for errors. 
But the intellect should submit itself to doctrine, 
seeking only those evidences which confirm the 
creeds and sustain the church, endeavoring to 
expound the revealed doctrines as absolute truth. 
For revelation is closed. No further evidences 
are needed. What we possess is complete and 


240 The Open Vision 

final. To seek alleged truth in psychical experi- 
ences, for instance, is to dabble in "the new black 
magic/ ' as a recent Roman Catholic writer calls 

The answer which most of us make nowadays 
is that we believe in the continuous presence of 
God and the spiritual world, with the possibility 
of new disclosures of truth. These new utter- 
ances may not carry us beyond what is universal 
in the teachings of the past, but they may be 
better adapted to our age. We believe in the 
living Word of God. We believe in the living 
Christ, risen and glorified. We hold that God 
still has guidance for us and that in His provid- 
ence it will be adapted to our needs. 

It is well, however, to press the matter further 
than this and to raise objections to this doctrinal 
position. In the first place, it claims more for 
the church, Catholic or Protestant ; for the creeds 
and doctrines, whatever their source of authority, 
than can be claimed for the Bible itself. The 
Bible was deemed inerrant or infallible before 
modern scholarship taught us to take the per- 
sonal equation into account, before we realized 
the fallibility of language, the variations of texts, 
and the influence of custom, belief, tradition. 
Now we realize that all these human elements 
are found within the same book which also con- 
tains divine truth. The Bible may still be re- 

A Doctrinal Objection 241 

garded as inspired in so far as we penetrate be- 
hind appearances to the reality within them, the 
reality which requires inner perception for its 
discernment. We are no longer able to main- 
tain the theory that the text is inerrant as it reads. 
The value of any principle of interpretation lies 
in its applicability, through discovery of the in- 
ner truth or living Word. This Word will not 
conflict with universal truth as disclosed in human 
history at large, or with human reason enlight- 
ened by spiritual experience. 

The second objection is found in the fact that 
for better or worse men use their intellects both 
in the process of accepting a principle of inter- 
pretation, a creed, or the authority of the church, 
and in searching for truth in the Bible. At best 
we are left with mysteries not yet explained. 
We must make headway as best we can, en- 
deavoring to use our powers to the full, guided 
by the highest spiritual light we can find. Au- 
thorities still differ in all the churches. There 
are always "two wings." The Christian Church 
is still divided into sects which place as much 
emphasis on the doctrinal differences which 
sunder as on the love which is supposed to unite. 
On many points of divergence there is no decis- 
ive teaching either in the Bible or in the creeds 
or doctrines. The text of the Bible contains 
gaps and ambiguities, some of which will prob- 

242 The Open Vision 

ably never be resolved. At best, we are progress- 
ing toward divine truth. No one is in a position 
to call others to account for using reason as a 

The third objection turns upon a discovery 
which might almost be regarded as a truism to- 
day, namely, that all things divine are given 
through human instrumentality, hence that the 
divine cannot be understood by itself but is intel- 
ligible through its mediating conditions. This is 
the meaning of the profound change of emphasis 
from the transcendence to the immanence of God, 
from the inaccessible to the immediate or divine 
in the human, "the divine human." Back of the 
whole question of truth as opposed to error lies 
this deeper issue pertaining to the human means 
through which the divine is adapted to our needs. 
To continue to believe in the Bible as containing 
divine truth despite all modern criticism is to be 
prepared to show, however imperfectly, how the 
Bible might have been written as a divine-human 
book through various means at different periods. 
To discern the divine truth is to understand the 
part played by the open vision, by inner percep- 
tion, the psychical element, the figurative ele- 
ment of language, the place of myth, symbolism, 
tradition. What we need is a profound philoso- 
phy of the correspondence between the natural 
and the spiritual. 

A Doctrinal Objection 243 

Unable to maintain their position in behalf of 
inerrant doctrines, the critics try another ap- 
proach. They now charge the liberals with an 
attempt to use subjective experience as the test 
of truth. This objection is urged in several 
ways. Any one who claims to have been led by 
experience is said to be seeking means of religious 
development outside of the churches, with their 
authorized means of regeneration. To believe 
in one's own experience is to be a mystic, and mys- 
ticism is of course "heresy." To look to experi- 
ence for wisdom is to try to invent a substitute 
for Christianity. Subjective experience can 
never be a test of truth because it is full of illus- 
ions, if not delusions, through taking one's inner 
life too seriously; hence it leads to false ideas of 
God and many other errors. 

Granting that there is truth in this criticism in 
the case of some who make special claims, it is 
hardly fair to judge current teachings by that 
which is least sound in them, ignoring all the rest. 
The larger consideration is that no one ever 
really believed anything religious except on the 
basis of personal or subjective experience. We 
have not all made this clarifying discovery but 
the sooner we make it the better; for we will 
then be able to avoid undue claims in behalf of 
the human self. The critic may be challenged 
to produce any item of effective belief not con- 

244 The Open Vision 

ditioned by what experience has led men to 
accept. We have indeed reached the period of ex- 
act science as opposed to individual opinion, and 
in the special sciences we make allowances for the 
element of experience in so far as it may be an 
interference. We have made some headway in 
the development of spiritual science as opposed 
to speculative theology. But in spiritual matters 
it is still a question of the best use to make of 
powers or "gifts," and knowledge ripened by 
experience. For better or worse we are all in 
the same position. We either start with the 
needs, longings and clues of inner experience, 
and seek an explanation of them; or, we accept 
certain teachings for the time being and then 
seek their deeper values when experience has 
corrected or verified them. 

Especially in matters pertaining to the life 
after death we find that doctrine falls so far 
short of what the heart longs for, namely, the 
experienced nearness of the spiritual world, that 
we come to realize the test of experience as the 
real test of what we actually believe. When/ 
death comes into the household with its deepen-/ 
ing experiences, we often find that those who^ 
urged the doctrines of conventional theology^ 
upon us have the least spiritual food to give./ 
But others who speak from the heart because 

A Doctrinal Objection 245 

they have lived and experienced may bring that 
wisdom which touches the heart, may open up 
a new gateway to experience. And so with the 
new birth. It is not that people have sought 
substitutes for the methods of the churches, but 
that when the real inner upheaval with its tests 
at last arrives men begin to learn realities from 
experience which surpass the doctrines and show 
their inadequacy. 

The religious devotee should be the last man 
in the world to protest against the appeal to 
experience, for it is he who makes most use of it 
and should be most concerned to interpret it 
aright in all its bearings, psychical as well as 
spiritual. How, it might be asked, did any one 
at any point in the race's history come to believe 
in spiritual things save through experience, nota- 
bly those experiences which spring up spontane- 
ously outside of the institutions? And how did 
any one else ever come to accept what the first 
man believed save through some experience or 
inner clue in his own life ? What is the value of 
religious instruction if not to acquaint people 
with the realities of experience that they may 
come to recognize principles which seers have dis- 
closed? How shall we take our seers in earnest 
unless we look for equivalent evidences within 
individual experience? And why not judge in- 

246 The Open Vision 

ner experience by the best results which it yields, 
instead of dwelling on the mystical delusions of 
those who take themselves too seriously? 

What we need is a philosophy of human ex- 
perience in the light of its successive states 
throughout history and leading up to two-world 
experiences as foundations for understanding 
the natural in relation to the spiritual. Such a 
philosophy would lead us to look in each age for 
the wisdom needed in that age. Thus in our 
own times we would look for new quickenings in 
response to the restlessness and searchings of 
heart coincident with the war. We would not 
rebel against but would welcome the awakening 
of interest in psychical phenomena, asking our- 
selves, What is its meaning? Why are people 
heart-hungry? Why have the churches failed 
to meet the new needs ? What if we should turn 
about and try to put ourselves in imagination 
into the point of view of an enlightened spirit in 
the other life seeking to be of service to his fellow- 
men here? Would it not seem pathetic that 
many of God's supposed representatives on 
earth are so closed in spirit to present-day guid- 
ance that not by any possibility could an enlight- 
ening idea be put in edgewise? 

It is refreshing to turn to the clarifying arti- 
cle by Mrs. W. Hinkley, in an English periodi- 
cal, in which the writer subtly rebukes the con- 

A Doctrinal Objection 247 

servative in the Church of England by quoting 
sentences here and there from recent automatic- 
ally received messages. Note, for example, the 
yearning to reach people on our plane expressed 
in the following. "If I could only reach you, if 
I could only tell you. ... I long for power. 
. . . Oh, if I could get to you, could give you 
proof positive that I remember, recall, know, 
continue ... all that we imagined is not half 
wonderful enough for the truth, that immortal- 
ity, instead of being a beautiful dream, is the one, 
the only reality/' l 

If any one still doubts that there has been an 
advance in such messages, that they give definite 
ideas about the future life which we may put 
with the best we already know concerning this 
life, let him read the excerpts made by Mrs. 
Hinkley, among which are these: 

"You can hardly by any stretch of the imagin- 
ation realize what a change it is to live in a place 
where the only test is character, where property, 
station and work do not count, no, nor religious 
profession. We see things as they are, not as 
they are labelled. We have such surprises to 
encounter, such amazing revelations of the esti- 
mates in which men and women are held." 

"The man (arriving here) finds this world 
very much what he has made it. Y»ou see the 

i Nineteenth Century, Nov., 1919, p. 930. 

248 The Open Vision 

results of your life's work, thoughts and deeds. 
You make your next life, you do it day by day, 
hour by hour. There is no sudden transform- 
ation. You are as you were. There is no break 
of continuity; you start where you left off, what 
you are you remain." 

"He who will not trust his own soul has lost it. 
And he who will not trust the voice of God in his 
own soul will seek for it in vain in the voices be- 
yond the border." 

"The whole of the evils that affect human 
society arise from the lack of seeing- things from 
the standpoint of the soul." 

"Take time to think of those you love. With- 
out thinking of people you lose vital connection 
with them. For love dies if you never think of 
the person loved." 

"What burdens the soul most is selfishness; 
what helps it most is love. You do not always 
realize that you can bless or curse with a thought. 
. . . By thinking kindly and lovingly of persons, 
not dwelling on their failings but on their virtues, 
you can help them to throw their faults aside." 

"You cannot estimate the value of true prayer. 
To us it seems as if you were like children set 
down in a great power-house, not knowing the 
importance of the switches and electric forces 
around you." 

"All that we value in the old life, all real 

A Doctrinal Objection 249 

things, love, friendship, beauty, understanding, 
thoughts, feelings, you will bring here with you 
to weave into the new life, which is full of beau- 
ties and joys which have not entered into the 
heart of man in your state yet." 

"You do not feel as if you had come to a 
strange place here, but as if you had come home. 
Nothing will be lost. I can see from here the 
various kinds of links which bind people together, 
none of them breakable by such a thing as death. 
Of all the real things that we have loved the life 
and likeness will be gathered and kept for us. 
One of the things I have learned in these months 
is the immense power of thought; you can see 
from here how people change and mould them- 
selves by their thought. Every hard thing you 
say or feel for another makes your path and his 

"I had no notion how much effect we have on 
each other . . . the living and the dead. . . . 
Your pain is ours, our joy might be yours. The 
more you realize our nearness so much the nearer 
we can come. Pray for us all, living and resur- 
rected; there is a great bond between us." 

"I think it is as hard for us when people can- 
not realize our union with them as it is for them 
when they can think of us only with pain and re- 
gret. It is an attitude of mind which could be 
changed by an effort of will." 

250 The Open Vision 

"Believe that there is always perfect strength 
and perfect understanding waiting to be strongly 
claimed. . . . How can I make you see the great 
power of prayer? It is far the strongest thing 
in the world, yet no one seems to use it except in 
the most tentative way." 

Do these messages have anything significant 
to say concerning the doctrines of the churches? 
Yes, they indicate the short-sightedness of many 
of them. For example, some one says: "Never 
think of Christ as the Divine scapegoat : think of 
Him as Love incarnate taking men by the hand. 
(Jt is the doctrine of the substitution of Christ, 
the sinless one, to satisfy the laws the sinner had 
broken, that has done so much evil?) Christ's 
death does not remove the effects of sin from any 
human being. Every man here goes to the place 
he has made for himself according as his life has 
been. But however feeble the glimmerings of 
goodness and truth, here they are fostered and 

After a study of such messages, Mrs. Hinkley 
strongly emphasizes the moral continuity of the 
future life with this one, the fact that we go on 
in that life where we left off here. She also em- 
phasizes the persistence of human responsibility, 
which has been "terribly blurred, indeed prac- 
tically denied, by the . . . theory of the atone- 
ment, and by the doctrine of imputed righteous- 

A Doctrinal Objection 251 

ness." The Church, she thinks, has failed to de- 
scribe the future life in such a way as "to make 
it seem real or desirable to a world of living, 
energizing men and women." By its many omis- 
sions, the Church has repelled innumerable souls. 
In truth, religion should "enlarge her outlook 
until she gratefully recognizes as co-workers with 
her every means of grace that the universe offers, 
all the experiences that shiver our stupid satis- 
faction with the things of the flesh, and pierce our 
too-absorbed preoccupation with its poor needs." 
What we need is the dawning of the deepening 
sense of the incomparably keener joys and griefs 
of the spirit. 

It is indeed "a commonplace today that men 
are reaching out with great desire for a vaster, 
more comprehensive and harmonious conception 
of the Author of the universe, one congruous with 
the whole of life, than is offered by orthodox 
theology." We have outgrown the orthodox 
scheme. We need a view of man's inner life 
founded on knowledge of the two worlds. We 
need to understand the principle of correspond- 
ence or relationship between inward states and 
outward conditions. Above all, we need a vital- 
izing conception of the divine in the human. 

It is well to remind ourselves once more that 
doctrines began to be needed in an unfavorable 
time when men had lost the open vision. Doc- 

252 The Open Vision 

trines were not and never could be substitutes 
for real life or experience. They are means to 
ends only, the highest end being love to God and 
man. Doctrines are of no value unless man lives 
by them in such a way to experience the realities 
for which they stand as mere abbreviations. 
They are not faith itself but reminders of what 
faith may become when introduced into the will 
and carried into effective conduct. 

True doctrine may indeed serve to unite men 
with God and to lead the way to experience. 
Hence it is important to inquire more and more 
deeply into the relationship between doctrine and 
experience, to see if the doctrines which still have 
life in them are large enough to represent the 
newer meanings of the inner life today. It is 
through the spirit that man is united with his 
fellowmen. On doctrinal grounds alone men 
differ. If the various sects of the Christian 
Church shall sometime unite, will it not be on 
the basis of the Christian life, through genuine 
return to the original teachings of the Gospels, 
in contrast with the theological systems which 
have been imposed upon them? 

If in accord with the above messages we should 
begin to teach universally on this earth, as liberals 
already teach, that character is the test, that our 
moral experience here continues into the future 
and shapes it by spiritual law, and that the next 

A Doctrinal Objection 253 

life is an attractive life, the whole face of things 
would be changed. We might then begin to live 
in all seriousness according to what we truly be- 
lieve in our hearts, but which we hardly dare 
express because it conflicts with the creeds. 
Prayer would become dynamic, vitalizing, and 
the whole emphasis would be put on the power 
which prayer sets free, on the vitalizing result. 
We would all trust the voice of God in the soul. 
We would all view social problems from the 
standpoint of the soul. We would all "take 
time to think of those we love," that we might 
keep the connection strong. And we would look 
forward to the future life with confidence, know- 
ing that in very truth all that we love from the 
heart will survive. This would be a realization 
of the ideal which Mrs. Hinkley suggests when 
she speaks of "an undying and everpresent ten- 
derness, to which death can make no difference." 
If such messages accomplish nothing else, it is 
to be hoped that they will tend to destroy once 
for all the notion that death is in itself a decisive 
event. For with the downfall of that doctrine 
will go a thousand and one notions about hell. 
Life will then be simplified into the successive 
states of the soul in its progress into freedom and 
the more abundant life. We will then see that it 
is never a question of time or place, either in this 
life or the next; but of our deeds and their con- 

254 The Open Vision 

sequences. In place of the alleged "eternal 
punishment" which was read into the New Testa- 
ment by the translators, we will adopt the teach- 
ing of the literal Greek text, "age-everlasting 
condemnation,' ' that is, the moral consequences 
needed to fit the deed in the given cycle, how- 
ever long that may be. The theory of eternal 
punishment will go the way of all unnecessary 
doctrines. Instead, we will begin to appreciate 
at last the power of Love incarnate, God in the 



Because I was in France when your son was 
killed in action, you ask me how death may be 
regarded as it comes in war-time, and what I 
think of the efforts now so eagerly made to enter 
into communication with "the dead." I will 
answer as I should wish any one to write to me 
under similar needs, out of the heart, whatever 
the apparent conflict with prevalent beliefs. 

Although not in action in the front lines, I 
spent months in a cantonment behind the lines 
where the wearied men awaited summons to the 
next attack ; hence I had opportunity to converse 
with those who had come as near as possible to 
death in all the forms in which it is known at the 
front. As a result, death seems less real, far 
less important than ever before, and not at all to 
be dreaded, despite the fact that it may come 
under terrible conditions. I think of the soldier- 
boys who have "gone West" as living, splendid 
souls with the supposed "mystery" put behind 
them, as they left their uniforms and their fleshly 
garments, as they left the war behind. I think 
of them as going on in moral and spiritual de- 


256 The Open Vision 

" * ' ■ ■ ' i 

velopment from the point attained here, at first 
with interests and occupations similar to some 
they followed here, but eventually with higher ac- 
tivities growing out of their more real knowledge 
of life. 

I had never thought of death as decisive, and 
now it seems literally incidental. I had always 
thought of the real life as spiritual and of the 
future as interiorly continuous with this. Na- 
turally then I had fewer fears to battle with when 
I crossed the dangerous seas. No one escapes 
such mental battles, however, and I suspect that 
they are useful; since they are tests of our faith, 
since each new situation gives us opportunity to 
face the great realities as we have thus far in- 
terpreted them. I must confess that death 
seemed a momentary possibility one terrible 
night in a bombarded city when I was exposed 
to an air-raid on a lonely street, far from a 
"shelter," and without protection from incendi- 
ary gas-bombs. Yet under such conditions what 
better attitude could one take than to believe 
in guidance to fulfil one's part, whatever the 
consequence? I learned then to realize the mean- 
ing of the sense of law or "fate" which makes 
so many of the soldiers fatalists but which I pre- 
fer to interpret as guidance. Arriving at the 
place where I was assigned for duty, I had a 
most distinct feeling that I had passed through 

To a Mother 257 

the real dangers and could settle down into rela- 
tive quietude, although exposed to dangers which 
as the months passed proved more threatening 
than those of the first few nights. I cannot con- 
vey to you the reality of that feeling. I can 
only say that it was unmistakable and strong, 
so strong that I felt renewed faith in the presence 
and reality of spiritual forces as the truly de- 
cisive forces in human life, even in war-time, even 
during an attack by the enemy and during air- 
raids at night when death-dealing bombs fall so 
quickly that one scarcely has opportunity to 
think before it is all over. 

I speak of this personal faith in spiritual re- 
alities by way of introduction to the greater 
thought of death as an event in spiritual living. 
For I believe that under the pressure of circum- 
stances many soldiers felt this same sense of 
higher reality, however they may have inter- 
preted it, and that some were sustained by it, by 
an awareness of life that made of death itself 
a wholly different experience from what we com- 
monly anticipate. It was perhaps on account 
of this interior nearness to spiritual realities that 
some of the men beheld, or thought they beheld, 
angels or "the Being in White," or supernatural 
soldiers fighting on their side. I do not know 
that it matters whether their spiritual eyes were 
open so that they saw anything or not. It would 

258 The Open Vision 

be futile perhaps to inquire. What does signify 
is the sense of reality, the fact that when hard 
pressed our spirits are in more intimate touch 
with what is spiritually real, with what we call 
the presence of God, the presence of Christ, or 
the spiritual world. Doubtless our views color 
what we seem to see or to feel. I merely sug- 
gest one possible view when I say that for me, 
when dangers were most threatening, what I call 
"guidance'' seemed of a piece with a long series 
of inner impressions starting with the first night 
of imminent peril at sea and continuing till I ar- 
rived at Brest en route for home. The inner 
feelings may be very much the same with all of 
us while the interpretations differ. For ex- 
ample, the French soldiers of peasant types, 
whom I came to know particularly well, seemed 
to have retained unspoiled the primitive faith of 
early Christianity in the nearness of the spiritual 
world and the presence of guardian angels. 
Knowing nothing of the critical tendencies of 
modern thought which have refined angels away 
into "good thoughts," and removed the spiritual 
world into the pigeon-holes of dogma, they had 
kept the simplicity of heart of the childhood of 
the world, that simplicity which we associate with 
the open vision. It mattered not that they were 
Roman Catholics with manifold beliefs which I 
could not share ; what signified was the untainted- 

To a Mother 259 

ness of spirit which led me to believe that death 
for these simple-hearted "poilus" would be a 
beautiful transition, to which their beliefs would 
be no obstacle. 

I am led to speak of death, therefore, as a 
fulfilment and a beginning; not a calamity or 
interruption. Hence I think of it in terms of 
beauty surpassing our prosaic speech. It seems 
to me an unfolding, a disclosure following upon 
a transformation scene in which the ugliness of 
the battle-field gives place to a vision of other 
realities hardly to be hinted at by our material 
terms. If this imagery be truthfully suggestive, 
then death is an awakening such that during the 
earlier moments the participant hardly knows 
that he is what we call "dead." For there he 
surely is, with all that he cares for most in his 
selfhood, with his character, affections, faith, and 
the impetus of will which carried him forward 
to meet his death. There too are his associates 
and comrades in the wondrous transition. Soon 
he will recognize friends who have long preceded 
him, and he will begin to look back with yearn- 
ing to those who will call him "dead," who will 
grieve over him as if they had no faith whatever 
in the human spirit as a being of life and power, 
as if they really did not believe in immortality. 

"Dead!" How strange a word to apply to one 
who was never so much alive before! Why 

260 The Open Vision 

should we cling to the word? Why not think 
and live in spirit with our loved ones, not as if 
they had really lost or suffered anything by the 
transition, but as having gained so much that we 
might almost wish we could lay aside our uni- 
forms too? 

Why should you not live with your son in 
spirit, in tender nearness of heart, as with you, 
despite all appearances and separateness ? Pic- 
ture him then in his best state of life and love 
and thought. Do not let any thought of war's 
horrors and disfigurements mar your mental pic- 
ture. Call up your best and dearest memories of 
his childhood and young manhood, and put with 
these blessed recollections your thought of his 
bravery and faith in entering upon the last battle 
and meeting death — not in defeat but in spiritual 
victory. Continue to think of him in this way 
and without any reference to his age as the years 
pass. Keep close to him as a living, progressing 
spirit, full of a new helpfulness, better able than 
ever to be of real service in the world of his 
present comrades. 

As for the possibility of communicating with 
him through a medium, I fear that what I have 
to say is disappointing. I am not a spiritualist 
and have never seen mediums receiving any of 
these communications. I do not write auto- 
matically and am very sceptical about the reality 

To a Mother 261 

of any messages coming through the ouija-board. 
Nor have I even investigated spiritism in the 
manner of the psychical researchers. It has al- 
ways seemed to me that one should never seek 
communications unless unmistakably led by one's 
guidances to do so, and I have never received 
any such guidance. But if the door has always 
remained closed in these directions it may be 
open in others. If you ask me whether I believe 
in spirit-return, all that I need say is that I have 
never believed in spirit-departure. Why should 
we if we hold that we are spirits now, and that 
we are interiorly akin to and related with our 
dear ones in the eternal life? 

What reason is there then for yielding to de- 
spair, as if we simply must have a message, must 
know that our loved ones still live? What is 
desirable is not anxiety, not out-reaching or ef- 
fort to call forth a message through one channel 
or another. Let this activity cease and with it 
all grief and all ideas of death as mere death. 
What you should cultivate, rather, is calmness, 
quiet constancy in your daily life, in your thought 
of your son, who has not "gone" but is here in 
the eternal present, in the spiritual world which 
might always have seemed a reality to us had we 
not been hampered by other ideas. 

You need no medium between your love and 
his. You need no message to quicken your 


262 The Open Vision 

power of thought. Let yourself live your own 
spiritual life. Think of this life as God's gift 
to you, that you may be a true mother, here and 
hereafter. Keep the thought of God close to 
you, in your heart, in your daily needs, as guid- 
ance, as providence, as ever-present wisdom and 
love. Then extend this thought of God to in- 
clude your son in his new life, as the union be- 
tween you, the Heart within your hearts, the love 
within your mutual affection. Realize that you 
will keep closest to him by living here in this 
world as he lives there, that is, as a spirit, as a 
child of God. 

If you cultivate this attitude, whatever guid- 
ance may be needed will come. As eagerly as 
you may have longed for a message, realize that 
you possess the open door to another kind of 
recognition. It might be difficult for you to 
obtain a satisfactory message, after months of 
searching. At best the communications would 
be relatively external, and you would need the 
confirmations of inner impression, you would 
need to feel the actual presence, to be thoroughly 
convinced. Why not then think of the inner re- 
lationship as in no way broken? If that rela- 
tionship ever comes to mean something more real 
to you, it will be because of your inner silence or 
calmness; because you will be more at home in 
the inner world, no longer distraught by outward 

To a Mother 263 

searchings. For your son is present with you 
when he thinks of you, and you are with him when 
you think of him, although no conscious message 
pass between you. In the stillness of perfect 
companionship, of simple presence, there is a re- 
latedness of heart which no uttered or written 
word could ever equal. 

I say this with greater conviction after con- 
tact with the dangers of the war-zone. I did not 
know from actual experience that one could con- 
tinue as open to guidance, that one could feel as 
near spiritual realities. It seemed possible that 
the environment of a war-zone would greatly in- 
terfere, hence that the spiritual world might seem 
more remote. Now I speak from experience 
when I say that the spiritual world seems far 
more near. For what is that world primarily? 
Surely not a "place," as if environment were 
more real than the beings whom it environs; but 
rather a relationship or union, the bond between 
souls. We know that our love-relationships 
grow with interchange of tenderness, sympathy, 
through mutual sentiments and community of in- 
terests. Consider then how many the inter- 
changes when thousands of souls have passed 
what we call the border and are looking back, 
and thousands here are yearning. Would not 
that bring the spiritual world more near? Would 
it not melt supposed barriers? And what kind 

264 The Open Vision 

* ■— —■ — * ' ' — ~— ii i 

of interchange is more immediate than the one 
you are now partly aware of when you turn in 
loving, life-giving and joyful thought to your 

Do I personally believe in such nearness with 
my own loved ones? Yes, because I cannot think 
otherwise and be true to what life brings. I hold 
that it is life itself which quickens these con- 
victions in us, according to our several needs, in 
the divine providence. Personally, we might 
tend to think otherwise, we might even try to 
disbelieve and disavow, because of the mis judg- 
ments to which one is subject in the world. But 
convincing beyond all question is that transfigur- 
ing experience which makes death seem to us 
forevermore a change into a greater sense of life, 
bringing with it the belief that our friends in the 
other world are not separated from us. For us 
who are "left behind," as we say, there is a re- 
alization that theory has given place to reality, 
that now we know, now we have a sense of power 
and with it new leadings for work in the world. 
From this added sense of power one comes to 
believe that there is greater wisdom in the mere 
presence than there could be in pages and pages 
of communications. For each of us must live 
out his life as it is now proceeding. It would 
not be wise to see things before our time. The 
mere glimpses which some of us have had into 

To a Mother 265 

the other life are enough, are all that we are able 
to bear now. We must first receive "the spirit 
of truth" which will lead us gradually into all 
truth, into all that we need to know. 

There is a Comforter for you. There is every 
reason why you should be at rest in this beauti- 
ful thought of death as a transfiguring of the 
soul, this thought which the soldiers have brought 
us anew. The wonderful disclosure will be 
made to you scene by scene, thought by thought, 
if you will permit it to come in its own way. 
Think of the spiritual world as most real in the 
living present moment. Think of God as near, 
and the Christian gospel of the fullness of life 
as being realized now. Put no barriers of theory 
or history between yourself and biblical times. 
Read the Bible as true now. See in this growing 
nearness of the spiritual world the second coming 
of the Lord. 



At no time do we more keenly realize our ig- 
norance and helplessness than in the hour when 
friend is sundered from friend by the experience 
which we call death. The questions that would be 
most eagerly asked we cannot adequately answer. 
The comfort we would most gladly give we can- 
not bestow. Touched by the deepest sympathy, 
we wish to be a friend indeed, giving spiritual 
counsel, indicating the best attitude of heart and 
mind, bestowing new life where help is most 
needed. Prompted to express ourselves in some 
way, we give voice to sentiments gathered here 
and there, or appeal to personal experience, well 
knowing that what is of value to us may convey 
no meaning to another. With the same sense of 
incompetency the public teacher approaches the 
great theme, addressing himself in general to 
people who ask for light in a very special way. 
Here, as in the message of comfort sent to the 
bereaved friend, the best that can be done is to 
bring together various considerations that help 


The Future Life 267 

us a stage on our way, frankly admitting that we 
are all learners together. 

An important point is gained, however, when 
we learn what questions may rightfully be asked, 
in what directions we may reasonably look for 
light. It is safe to assume that he knows most 
about the future life who best understands our 
present existence. Hence it is not necessarily 
the one who has investigated mediumship or de- 
voted years to psychical research who will be most 
likely to guide us aright. The unknown must 
be approached from the known or no sure head- 
way can be made. If we have no philosophical 
knowledge of human personality we should not 
expect to learn anything of consequence about 
the future life. Genuine self-knowledge should 
enable us to make safe inferences, and the more 
we know about moral laws the greater should be 
our assurance with respect to the future. 

There is of course no experimental or psychi- 
cal proof of human immortality. We have 
grown weary of arguments in favor of it. The 
best of these is the insistence that a future life 
is required in order to readjust the inequalities 
and wrongs of mundane existence. It is widely 
agreed that the moral cosmos must be eternal in 
order to be moral at all. That the moral life 
shall persist until all human needs are met and all 
moral ideals fulfilled is an item of our faith, 

268 The Open Vision 

however, not a fact of our knowledge. To es- 
tablish the survival of the soul after death, or the 
fact of the spirit-return, would not be to prove 
immortality, although such evidences would ren- 
der our faith more secure. Our first interest is 
to show that essentially the same man survives 
the great change. If so, there may be good 
ground for believing that the same individual 
will always survive. To live forever would be 
the only way conclusively to prove immortality, 
and each of us shall know it for a fact through 
actual life. The mere survival of states of con- 
sciousness associated with our present existence 
would not establish immortality, for these states 
might be diffused after a few years, just as a 
man's influence fades here on earth. Nor would 
the persistence of the acquired deeds which make 
up a man's present character, prove that the 
soul's identity would survive, since there might 
not then be a soul in the sense in which most of 
us employ the term. What is sought is sure be- 
lief in individual identity, with the conviction that 
this self will outlive all changes in consciousness, 
all phases of conduct and character, all develop- 
ment from level to level. Many of us would like 
to believe that as sons of God we possess an im- 
mortal selfhood which will endure despite the 
mutations of all possible modes of existence. 
We do not wish to be "merged in the absolute," 

The Future Life 269 

or have our friends diffused as atoms are scat- 
tered. Nor do we like to believe that a man does 
not become immortal until he chooses the eter- 
nally moral life. If this be asking too much, at 
any rate the main point is established, namely, 
that it is ndt a question of mere proof. 

If our arguments in behalf of the future life 
are limited by our present faith, the same is true 
of our statements concerning the actual mode of 
existence of friends who have gone before. The 
best information that purports to have come from 
the most trustworthy psychical sources is meagre 
indeed. In so far as our friends are able to 
communicate they are most likely to convey brief 
messages of helpfulness and love of special im- 
port for you and me. Able to care for them- 
selves more wisely than when here, they appear 
to be most concerned to help us to live our na- 
tural life. Those who are wisest would be least 
likely to tell us what the actual conditions of their 
experiences are. Hence it were well to be con- 
tent with what is given us, manifesting no curi- 
osity to behold heavenly glories before our time. 
As great resources as the angels may have, what- 
ever wisdom or power is bestowed upon us must 
be mediated to us precisely where we are. We 
could understand very little of their mode of life 
if told. Far better is it that we should be given 
the practical word for to-day. Those who look 

270 The Open Vision 

down upon us in their greater wisdom would 
doubtless be glad to share this wisdom, but re- 
frain because they know that like children we 
must work everything out from the point of de- 
velopment now attained. 

It is probable that whatever guidance may be 
our due is most likely to be received under con- 
ditions that enable us to live a normal life in this 
present world. Hence it is not likely to be those 
who are seeking to acquire psychical powers who 
will receive the greatest wisdom. The present 
life necessarily stands first in importance for us 
as long as we live here. He who takes an ab- 
normal interest in the future life will be abnormal 
in experience and thought. Hence when you 
meet the typical "psychic" of to-day you will 
naturally receive what she says with the greater 
allowance for the personal equation in so far as 
you find her approaching the abnormal. Occult 
or unusual powers, extreme sensitivity, and a 
neurotic temperament, may well be channels of 
communication, but the test for those who would 
know what statements to put reliance on is con- 
formity to the conditions of natural existence. 
Hence we insist that every one who claims to have 
supernal wisdom shall show it by living more 

On the other hand, the man who goes quietly 
about his affairs, with an inner door left open, 

The Future Life 271 

may well find that spiritual experiences are 
added to natural without disturbing the condi- 
tions of normal life. By this quietude one means 
trustful expectancy based on knowledge of the 
laws of moderate development, the absence of 
ecstasy or of any emotion that upsets the or- 
dinary processes of consciousness. The spirit- 
ual life may then grow up almost "unconscious 
and unbidden through the common," for a man's 
life will be simple, free, and reposeful so that 
whatever rightfully belongs to him will be vouch- 
safed. Under such conditions it might be as 
natural to feel the presence of angels and spirits 
as to participate in any ordinary experience. 
Such a life would be inspired by a purpose which 
includes the natural world and the spiritual as 
parts of the one moral order. Hence we may 
dismiss the possibility that one who is thus in a 
wise way interiorly open might be at times beset 
by devils. Heaven is life with a purpose, and he 
enters it at any point in any mode of existence 
who attains order, its first law. Hell is con- 
fusion, inconsistency, the scattering of power. 
To enter heaven is to become open to all that is 
uplifting and outgoing, closed to the subtle en- 
ticements of self-will and self-centeredness. 

While, then, there is strictly speaking no proof 
of immortality, or even of the future life, there 
is a wealth of reasons for believing that the soul 

272 The Open Vision 

survives all changes. Hence we may well under- 
take to give the reasons for our faith, still relying 
on the moral argument as the best one. The 
moral order, one holds, guarantees that justice 
shall be accorded to all and our moral purposes 
completely realized. This need not mean that 
those only who have a moral purpose become 
immortal, for if the present life were the sole test- 
ing-ground heaven might have a comparatively 
small number of inhabitants. Let us rather say 
that so far as we can tell moral possibilities are 
endless and there are no temporal limits. The 
probability is that in the future life every possi- 
ble opportunity will be given every soul to arrive 
at moral consciousness and become spiritually 
constant. The best evidence we now have of 
these possibilities is found in the fact that moral 
consciousness already exists in the heavenly pres- 
ent, while the men who refuse the gifts of the 
Spirit are already in hell. 

Considerations in favor of immortality are 
more strongly persuasive than alleged scientific 
proofs. The future life, let us say, as an act of 
faith, includes every soul without exception that 
has ever left this sphere. It is most likely to be 
a realm or concourse of souls in which the in- 
habitants gather into groups according to their 
type. Hence a man may choose his company 
as when here. More truly, the power of attrac- 

The Future Life 273 

tion is constantly gathering his like to him wher- 
ever he is. 

The most reasonable belief appears to be that 
the spiritual world is as near as the atmosphere 
itself, and related to our natural life by intelligi- 
ble correspondences. An angel is not a being of 
a totally different type, dwelling in a different 
sort of world removed from ours. There is no 
space between the worlds, that is, space should 
not be thought of at all. What separates us 
from an angel is the goodness which even now 
separates us from enlightened men in the flesh 
who are more advanced in development than we. 
Heaven is constituted of the beings whose inmost 
states accord with righteousness. Heaven be- 
gins wherever and whenever a man acknowledges 
the wisdom and love of God, responding in heart 
and mind to that love and wisdom. Conse- 
quently the heavenly ties that bind are already 
uniting us one to another in this earthly sphere. 
These are the ties that endure. These connect 
us with the real spiritual world, a world as near 
as the heart's most intimate friend, the mind's 
profoundest thought. 

Our first need is to dissociate the idea of death 
from our thought of the soul. Death is an ex- 
ternal or secondary incident, like a change of 
residence or habitat, and is not intelligible by it- 
self, or in terms of the conceptions with which 

274 The Open Vision 

conventional thought has invested it. The essen- 
tial idea is that the inner life is continuous, that 
we are already denizens of the eternal world. 
Secure in our grasp of eternal possessions we can 
begin to view temporal possessions aright. To 
become thus secure it is necessary to think back 
as far as we can, starting with the Being whose 
life is forever the source of our experience. 

That is to say, time and the other conditions 
of finite selfhood as we know them begin with 
the existence of this life-round through which 
God manifests His selfhood. It is impossible 
to start and end with time and space, with the 
merely natural world, and arrive at an adequate 
idea of God. Our starting-point should be with 
the Being who is eternally His own ground, who 
never began to be but eternally is, He who is self- 
subsistent, independent, absolute. He is not a 
creature of time or of any other limitation: He 
makes time by displaying His activities in nat- 
ural form. The temporal world is part of the 
eternal divine order. The conditions found 
within it are those that spring from the divine 
purpose, the divine nature as revealed in it. 

Likewise with the human soul, whatever we 
find it to be under the guise of nature. Whether 
you and I ever existed before our birth into this 
natural world is an idle question in comparison 
with the great thought that whatever we are es- 

The Future Life 275 

sentially, as sons of God, we are eternally in the 
purposes of God. This is the ground of our 
being, our selfhood, our very life. Secondary 
to this is the fact that we went forth in the fulness 
of time to gather experience, pass through the 
long round from ignorance to knowledge, and 
come gradually to consciousness of our spiritual 
birthright. Secondary, too, is the fact that we 
are given the great choice that enables us to be- 
come sons of God in actuality, consciously immor- 
tal in the spiritual realm of being. The differ- 
ence is that the Father's will now becomes outs, 
His purpose the consciously chosen purpose by 
which we endeavor to make ourselves worthy of 

Temporal or earthly existence, I insist, is 
secondary, whatever our belief in regard to the 
so-called planes of experience. The fundamen- 
tal consideration is this splendid gift which we 
call life, ever carrying us forward to fresh mom- 
ents of experience. We awaken to find our- 
selves observant creatures meeting life as it 
passes. With this reflective observation life re- 
ally begins for us, whatever may have happened 
before. Will this consciousness be continuous 
so that we can look back upon this fair world and 
own our life here as really ours? That will de- 
pend upon the stage we have reached in thought 
and life. In the case of some men this conscious- 

276 The Open Vision 

ness probably continues unbroken, so that death 
is indeed an external incident. Ordinarily there 
are such lapses as you and I already know from 
painful endeavors to be righteous amidst condi- 
tions that tempt us to be sinners. Only he is 
sure, I repeat, who is morally a person, who can 
command all moments of his fluctuating con- 
sciousness; most of us are fragments, collections 
of moods, tendencies, habits, feelings, with now 
and then a moral impulse. If as fragments we 
live, should we not expect to take up our next 
occupation in a fragmentary manner? Shall 
any one put a man together save a renewing 
quickening spiritual life, inspired of course by 
heavenly wisdom? 

Life then is not a mere strait between eterni- 
ties, as men once believed; the soul is not "hurled 
into eternity," as the reporters for the sensational 
press inform us. Whatever life we are to know 
is inseparably involved in the life that now is. 
There appears to be no escape for us, either into 
another heaven or another hell. This tremen- 
dous truth implies the conclusion that there is 
nothing morally insignificant of which we can 
now be deprived, nothing which need be post- 
poned. For death is not the leveller of men, it 
is not death that unmasks us, compelling us to 
appear at last for what we are; it is moral judg- 
ment that does all this. To him who has eyes 

The Future Life 277 

to see the inmost selfhood, these strange beings 
round about in ungainly clothes, ugly hats, and 
conventional disguises are already revealed for 
the little that they are worth, as incisively re- 
vealed as would be the case were they airy shapes 
haunting the dim light of a ghostly world. The 
disguises elude most of us, to be sure ; we address 
these benighted creatures as if they were mere 
beings of flesh, hats, automobiles, and bank-ac- 
counts. But the moral cosmos is a fact now, and 
each man is unsparingly, constantly judged by 
what he is at heart, in secret thought and inmost 

Without doubt, death is an unmasking — the 
severest wielder of surprises that ever meets man- 
kind. No doubt death is the only incident 
powerful enough to awaken some of us into 
decency. But consider how superficial it must 
be to one who still turns a deaf ear to the angel of 
the moral law, how long a time some men and 
women of high repute must spend in a spiritual 
kindergarten learning the first elements of moral 
integrity. Then, too, there are probably those 
who will long be dazed, half asleep, or even, more 
unruly than when here. For them death will con- 
ceivably mean extremely little; what will avail 
will be the great moment when they cross the line 
from disorder into order, morality. Possibly it 
will be easier in the future lif e to make the effort 

278 The Open Vision 

and cast the die. More likely everything will 
depend upon the man. 

For those who already know themselves in 
some degree, the future lif e will surely be richer, 
freer, abounding in opportunities to make head- 
way and to serve. But this will be because while 
here they have already passed through a change 
greater than death. Is this assuming too much, 
do you say, are we making light of death? Then 
look farther back and make sure that you start 
with life — life, not death. 

What is a soul? Are we really creatures of 
flesh and blood, mere epiphenomena fitfully 
added to life's fever, soon- to be reduced unto the 
elements when our brains have ceased to func- 
tion? If not, why not begin this hour to think 
and speak consistently? Why refer to yonder 
fleshly form "husbanded in death," as your sister, 
your father, or your husband? Why maintain 
this long round of conventionalities by which we 
belie our faith and declare ourselves the weakest 
of cowards? 

If in actuality I believe my sister is a soul, let 
me ever think of and love her as such, addressing 
her as one worthy to be called a daughter of God, 
sometime to be an angel in fact as she even now 
is in ideal, mayhap in fleshly purity. To live by 
what I profess were to meet her as a soul, even 
if the world condemn her. One can never serve 

The Future Life 279 

two masters in these respects. When my sister's 
erstwhile garment is laid aside, let me remember 
that she lives as truly as when I saw that same 
garment clothing her. If my faith tells me that 
life is life, it will also tell me that her joy has 
increased with her freedom. Why, then, should 
I be so far selfish as to be bowed down in fleshly 
grief as if my sister were dead? Should I not 
live in joy with her joy, picturing her as she 
probably is, awakening to fuller consciousness, 
greeting me with increased affection? Surely, 
the attitude of earthly grief and selfishness would 
close the door, turning me hellward, not heaven- 
ward, while to live with her as a soul, less apart 
from me than before, would be to give her the 
greatest satisfaction. 



Can one live according to this high standard, 
do you ask? Is it not human to grieve, should 
we not conform to the customs of our land? 
That depends upon our consciousness. Those 
for whom this faith is a reality have met the sever- 
est test and that is why they know it is true. 
Once there came to a friend a woman who had 
recently lost a son and who, finding no consola- 
tion in the church, sought light elsewhere. My 
friend bore no evidence that sorrow had come her 
way, and she spoke as calmly and confidently 
about death as most of us do about this natural 
life. Emphasizing the thought of life, and point- 
ing out that the mother would please her son 
most by regarding him as a living soul enjoying 
a richer mode of life, she tried to show the way 
into a larger attitude. The mother listened 
patiently for a time, then objected, "It is very 
evident, Mrs. S., that you have never met with 
sorrow." When my friend told this grieving 
mother that it was less than three weeks since her 
beloved husband had left this natural world, the 


The Future Life 281 

statement came with the force of a revelation that 
changed the course of her life; for she saw that 
here was a woman who, though separated from 
the one whom she most deeply loved, was not 
really separated at all, since a living faith wholly 
took the place of the conventional thought of 
death, together with all the attendant signs. 
Here, in fact, was a woman for whom there was 
but one life — the immortal lif e of spiritual con- 
sciousness and love. What another had accom- 
plished she might attain by equal fidelity and 

Consider the difference that would character- 
ize our life here, if we could grow up with the 
teaching that there is but one life— the moral 
present. It would then be possible to regard all 
the tribulations of human experience in the light 
of their value for the soul, to live consistently in 
and with the thought of life as essentially spirit- 
ual, dependent at each and every stage upon the 
life-giving Father. A different scale of values 
would obtain from first to last. Deeper know- 
ledge of this existence would prepare the way 
for a higher entrance into the future. In place 
of the fear of death — that terrible disturber of 
our rest throughout our conventional existence, 
there would be joy in life — gratitude for the 
blessings of growth and companionship. Best 
of all, without the torments of fear, and with a 

282 The Open Vision 

normal mode of life in general, there would be 
a strong possibility that death would come in the 
fulness of time, not as a result of the strenuous 
existence which takes most of us away before 
our time. For why should not death sometime 
be an easy, natural transition, when we have out- 
grown all correspondences here? 

This line of reasoning brings us to the point 
where we can take up the question most eagerly 
asked about our loved ones: Shall we know 
them, will they know us in the future life? Our 
argument leads us to ask the prior question, Do 
we really know our friends here? What is it to 
know a soul? Almost without thought we an- 
swer that we are bound to our loved ones by inner 
cords, ties of feeling, unity of spirit, common in- 
terests, affections that are not dependent on ex- 
ternal relationships, although fostered by the 
clasp of the hand and the many little acts of 
tenderness which the heart prompts. We really 
know, not when we have minutely analyzed, but 
when we have lived with a person, "through thick 
and thin," through mutual struggles and deep- 
ening joys. Is it not safe to infer that we are 
most likely to be drawn to those whom we have 
thus most intimately known in this world? Are 
we not likely to be most remote from those who 
are at the great distance from us here? 

Many indeed who go on before us may out- 

The Future Life 283 

grow their relationships with people in the flesh 
and may not be recognized by any whom they 
knew here. But these changing relationships 
are occurring all about us now. Most of our ac- 
quaintances are for a time only. Many ties of 
blood are external simply. A man's real rela- 
tionships are with those who are near him in type, 
just as in a church one finds men and women of 
a certain sort of faith, constituting a spiritual 
group. Such groups need not be alone consti- 
tuted of those in the flesh, or out of it, but may in- 
clude all souls, whether incarnate or discarnate, 
who think and live in the same general way. 
Very likely we all belong to such groups, large 
or small. If so, we are likely to know and to be 
known by those who are quickened in the same 

Likewise with love. Few men and women 
love as you and I would like to have them, with 
that deep interior bond that ever draws two souls 
more closely together. When it is the soul's love, 
not the fleshly affection, may we not reasonably 
expect that this bond will draw the two into 
deeper union even when one has left the flesh and 
must await the other during many a year? 
Surely this is a reasonable belief. It is allow- 
able, also, to hold that even during a visible sep- 
aration lasting ten, even twenty or thirty years, 
the two will grow in unison, knowing each other 

284 The Open Vision 

better all the while, ready for quick recognition 
when the lingerer shall be free. And recogni- 
tion, let us remember, is not of the eye but of the 
heart, the soul. 

Here then are joy and hope for us at the point 
where we are most eager. But how it changes 
matters even in this present life! How differ- 
ent from the beginning to eternity is that love 
which is of the inmost heart, uniting soul with 
soul, inspiring each to live for the other, in con- 
trast with the zeal for power and possession 
which ordinarily rules in what we call love! 
First in order in all fields of interest stands that 
which has eternal value, pertains to character 
and the moral ideal. Every man is to be judged, 
to be worked for, in accordance with what he 
really is at heart, that is, his best self, the soul 
that is struggling into expression. The life in 
and for the Spirit is the one life worth while. 
Other ends are to be sought only so far as they 
pertain to this greatest end. Our work for 
humanity is thus made constructive in a far 
larger sense than is ordinarily thought of, with 
the longest look ahead. Yet all this change shall 
come about, not with the acceptance of more re- 
sponsibility on our part as if we poor finite creat- 
ures could peer into the most distant future to 
discern what is best for a man, but with the giv- 
ing up of all merely human responsibility in 

The Future Life 285 

favor of unqualified cooperation with the moral 
law, complete obedience to the guidances of the 

The old notion that we are suddenly to be 
transported into heaven or hell went with the 
primitive conception of God as a local being a 
few hundred miles above the earth, then supposed 
to be the centre of the universe. It was pleas- 
ant, no doubt, to sing about the delectable region 
in which there should be "no more sorrow." 
More serious was the proposition that there 
should be no more time, for this appeared to offer 
a real way for escape from the slow processes of 
this earth. All this changed with the discovery 
that whatever occurs in the cosmos takes place 
by degrees. Hence even in a timeless world no 
one would be free from the conditions which 
make for righteousness. Time is long or short 
according to the love we bear for what we are 
doing. Sorrow will cease when we are wise 
enough and loving enough to merit a life of 
blessedness. We are lifted out of the domain 
of time in so far as we love and give ourselves to 
the eternal values, to truth, beauty, and goodness. 
An eternal type of consciousness may be added 
to this transiency which ordinarily imprisons us. 
It may be attained by every one who will give 
up enough local interests to take on those that 
pertain to the cosmos. 

286 The Open Vision 

The old conception of virtue has also gone, 
since we discovered that our earth is not the 
centre of all things. No one would seriously 
think of purchasing a seat in heaven who has 
learned that merely to give away all one's money, 
or to accept a creed which is supposed to guar- 
antee salvation, signifies little. We are learn- 
ing that merely external things decide nothing 
whatever, that all depends on the motive, the 
character, the actual attainment. In other 
words, those who are really serious understand 
that virtue begins when moral judgment begins. 
He who does a virtuous deed is rewarded accord- 
ing to its inmost character by a power which no 
hand can stay. No one need purchase what he 
has earned. 

If, then, you would "inherit eternal life," be- 
gin to be worthy to be known by your friends in 
the future by living for the moral values and 
spiritual essentials of life. By these I mean the 
actual attainments, the heart-interests, and in- 
most states which draw us into conditions of real 
life development. We begin to know these 
when we judge righteously, and a righteous 
judgment is not so difficult as might appear. 
At heart we would all like to pass for what we 
are, be frank, open, honest, making no claims, in 
gentle deference and kindness preferring that our 
betters should take the lead; what makes us such 

The Future Life 287 

difficult and unpleasant creatures is what is ex- 
ternal, conventional, worldly. Begin to pass for 
what you are and people will bestow confidence 
upon you, honestly speaking from the heart. 
Give from the inmost centre and your fellows 
will respond from that centre. 

There is indeed an inmost part of us all, a 
centre where the love of God abides, ever sus- 
taining the capacity for goodness in us, however 
strong the life that seems to gainsay its very ex- 
istence. This, I insist, is the primary consider- 
ation. If you do not know it yet, if you have not 
found it in yourself or in others, study to find it, 
simplify your life sufficiently, seek quietude 
enough. In the stillness of nature, in the silence 
of the night, in the calmer moments between 
the storms and stresses, meditate on the perman- 
ent life of the soul. Remember the loved form 
whose presence within your household bespoke 
a soul of sweetness and purity, or of manly 
dignity and power. Consider how free must 
the loved one's life be in contrast with the com- 
plexity of your own. In order to establish a 
conscious bond between that life and yours you 
would naturally cultivate a spirit of restfulness 
and genuine repose. You would scarcely think 
of this inner quietude as your own, as sought for 
yourself. Really to find the inmost centre is to 
find that a higher life than you can claim as your 

288 The Open Vision 

mere own steadily springs into fresh moments 
of being within you. That life springs out of 
the abundance of the divine heart. It carries 
the soul forward from moment to moment. 
What it does for you, what it would have you 
do — this is essential, moral, spiritual. He who 
apprehends and knows it, thinks not of his own, 
makes nothing of himself; but responds, obeys, 
shares, loves, gives unqualifiedly. 

In some of us a work of destruction must be 
wrought before we can find this inmost centre, 
for we have made too much of the self, we care 
for the form more than the spirit, revere the 
head above the heart. Hard is the work of de- 
struction, sometimes, for we have paid high for 
external accomplishments and we want them 
recognized for all that they are worth. But the 
process continues, nevertheless ; the Spirit is try- 
ing us all in the light of the inmost standard. 
To enter the real life that now is, to be aware of 
this essential process, is already to dwell in and 
to know the future life, to have no more doubts 
concerning its existence. For we know that the 
self-same Spirit that is remaking us now made 
the total environment in which we live, possesses 
all things and is unopposed. God is the one 
efficiency, there is no other. The real life is life 
with Him. He is life and in Him is no death. 
"He is light and in Him is no darkness at all." 

The Future Life 289 

He is love, and His love knows no hatred for 
souls, condemns no son or daughter. He who 
would know life and have it more abundantly 
may indeed have and know it who opens himself 
in spirit to be guided. 

The future life is the life of the spirit, and the 
spirit in man is the group of powers through 
which God quickens him, through which heavenly 
presences are perceived, by means of which he 
responds in thought, will, and deed. The spirit 
was not conceived by the flesh but was born of 
Spirit. Nor is it solely conditioned by the brain 
and nervous system. It is immersed in the flesh, 
while we dwell here, but already its powers are 
recipients of the divine life, capable of acknow- 
ledging and responding to the divine love and 
wisdom. The spirit is not a mere faculty or 
sense, it is not quickened by feeling alone, or 
limited to mystical experiences; it is the man 
himself in permanent form, in heavenly possi- 
bility, if not already in heavenly guise. To have 
a definite conception of it, instead of holding a 
hazy psychology, is already to be able to reflect 
concerning the future life in a rational way. 
There is no reason why we should not construct 
a fairly precise conception if we keep close to the 
actual intimations of the spirit's presence which 
our best experiences supply, and which our high- 
est insights complete. 

290 The Open Vision 

It seems to be granted to but few to behold 
the future life as it were in vision while we yet 
dwell here. For those who believe they have 
communed with spirits and angels the actual 
experience of enlightened and heavenly presences 
outweighs in authority even the knowledge of 
the moral order on which I have placed such 
stress. For it is experience that convinces, 
rather than argument or even knowledge, and 
sometimes a person's whole life will be changed 
by the coming of a quickening presence or 
through the persuasiveness of an inner vision. 
It is those who have been touched and quickened 
who really know, while other people merely have 
grounds for faith and are still able to doubt on 

It is not strange that such experiences are sel- 
dom vouchsafed to men, for most of us are ab- 
sorbed in external life, most of us care solely for 
the things that perish. This is probably wise, 
for it is well that we should advance little by 
little, while a few lead the way. No one who 
eagerly seeks light on the great question will 
ever be deprived of light, but if the foregoing 
considerations are sound much will depend on 
what we seek and the way we seek it. Not in 
anxiety and scepticism are we likely to be given 
genuine evidence. There is a vast difference be- 
tween the occult realm to which scepticism right- 

The Future Life 291 

fully applies and the inner realm of spiritual 
quickening, the sanctuary of the spirit. The 
conclusive evidences are gifts of heaven. They 
do not conform to our standards and are not con- 
trolled by our will. The best is not bestowed 
while we insist that it shall be given in precisely 
our own way. 

Not then in mere faith but in conviction 
founded on actual experience some of us hold 
that we actually gaze into the future life, dis- 
cerning heavenly forms and faces clothed with 
radiance and expressing love beyond all powers 
of appreciation in ordinary speech. From these 
visions it appears plain that the life of the en- 
lightened future will not be one in which men 
simply mete out justice, administering moral les- 
sons to their fellows, but a life in which love will 
prevail, a love which will not only pertain to a 
small segment of the human self but will fill the 
entire sphere. Conceive a being filled with love, 
literally from head to foot, as if emitting a soft 
effulgence spreading far beyond the bodily form, 
and you will perhaps have some idea what man- 
ner of being sometimes attends our footsteps on 
their faltering way. If we could see more, if we 
could really behold the manner of life which the 
angels lead, doubtless we should be eager to press 
on and join them in the sacred beauty of their 
existence. But it seems wise that our eyes are 

292 The Open Vision 

holden that we may not see, since each must take 
up the round of activities where he dropped it 
when the vision came. Nothing seems to absolve 
us from being practical. 

We have succeeded in this brief survey of the 
great subject, if we have pointed out various di- 
rections in which the wise spirituality of the fu- 
ture may grow little by little out of the philo- 
sophical life of the present. Reason dissolves 
circumstances into laws and into eternity. He 
who leads the life of reason will not be greatly 
surprised even by death. For the same law that 
founded death creates itself in forms of mastery 
in the philosophic reflection of man. He who is 
able to rethink life so as to add the gifts which 
his individuality produces has the groundwork 
on which the future shall be reared. It is not 
strange, then, that we occasionally foresee our 
own future some years ahead. That future is 
being formed through us even now; we possess 
in essence what we are to be. Translate this life 
of eternal creative reason into the society of the 
republic of God, you who care rather for the 
personal than for the laws and values, and you 
will already have prefigured before you the group 
to which you belong. Only when we thus break 
away from the mere things, mere temporal 
events, and branch out into the free atmosphere 
of the ideal, can we complete the picture. We 

The Future Life 293 

are partly making the future in which we shall 
dwell, by this ideal construction in which persons 
are beheld as each contributing his organic por- 
tion in a spiritual republic. To be, not merely to 
seem, to have real abiding peace, a love that stays, 
a reason that we live by, fellow-souls with whom 
we labor throughout the centuries — that it is to 
belong to a future that is worth while, to realize 
"the glory of the imperfect" for the sake of the 
greater glory of God. 



No fact more plainly shows that human beliefs 
depend on human attitudes than the remarkable 
diversity of opinion concerning the Bible. In 
this Book of books man may find whatever he 
looks for, what he thinks, what he is. In fact 
man may confirm from it whatever he wishes to 
believe, and apparently prove whatever is to him 
a truth. Any kind of spiritual theory may be 
founded upon it and it may serve to establish any 
sort of authority. Whenever a new cult arises 
or an ancient belief is revived the Master is 
claimed as the initiate or prophet of the new 
order of society presently to come into being. To 
understand what the Bible means to the masses 
you must know not only the great faiths of the 
world but the lesser ones too; you must know 
human nature and all the incentives that lead 
men to look beyond visible things in quest of 
God, if "haply by feeling after Him they may 
find Him." 

Meanwhile in the endless confusion of creeds 
and interpretations there seems to be but one 
way to advance to clearly established science, 

294 " 

The Book of Life 295 

namely, by adopting the higher criticism. This 
point of view means, in brief, that the same prin- 
ciples of interpretation shall be applied to the 
Bible which we employ when studying the works 
of a classic author such as Homer. Every well- 
informed person knows by this time that the 
great Greek poet brought together traditions 
and myths concerning the gods or heroes. 
Homer lived in a certain age, was subject to cer- 
tain conditions and beliefs, and spoke a certain 
language. No one would think of studying his 
verse apart from these conditions. He was "in- 
spired," if you please, but inspiration is a cer- 
tain activity of the man of genius; inspiration 
does not produce its works apart from human 
instruments and limitations, nor does it involve 
any guarantee against errors and mistakes. 
When it produces poetry its effusions are re- 
garded as poetry, not as science. 

In the same way, so the critics tell us, the 
myths of the ancient Hebrews, together with 
their moral code, came in time to be put in writ- 
ten form. For the sake of authority these writ- 
ings were attributed to Moses as law-giver, and 
to the prophets and other writers who put long- 
standing beliefs in classic form. The Bible is 
simply a collection of short literary works, not 
a unitary book. It was brought into its pres- 
ent shape long after the events and sayings 

296 The Open Vision 

which it records became historical facts. It 
abounds in myths and errors, popular beliefs, 
and contradictions. There are various copies of 
the original manuscripts, and these do not always 
agree. As a whole, it should be read in the light 
of the conditions under which it was produced. 
To know how the world was made, you should 
consult modern science, not the Bible. To know 
history, you should turn to its chief authorities. 
To know what to believe, you should look for 
light wherever you can find wisdom that appeals 
to you. There can be no standard of belief in 
a collection of myths, hymns, and prophecies 
gathered from the literature of a people. That 
is to say, the Bible is essentially human, and 
should be read as all other books are interpreted. 
In the face of this well-established view any 
one who should still claim that the Bible con- 
tains a "revelation" would be looked on as be- 
hind the times. It is possible, however, to as- 
similate the results of the higher criticism and yet 
find in the Bible an illumined clue to the spirit- 
ual life. For example, we may frankly recog- 
nize that the commandments did not originate 
on Mount Sinai but were widely believed by 
other nations, and that Moses copied from other 
writings earlier than those now attributed to him. 
Indeed it matters little whether there ever was 
such an event as that associated with Mount 

The Book of Life 297 

i n i i * 

Sinai; what does matter is that the myths which 
the Hebrews preserved came to have divine au- 
thority, in contrast with the civil authority which 
they had long enjoyed. The ancient Hebrews 
represented types of development in such a way 
that principles are discernible despite all the 
errors and imperfections, the crudities and ex- 
ternalities for which they are known. There are 
indeed verbal contradictions and appearances 
that readily mislead. The true God is very far 
from the angry, jealous deity, narrowly partisan 
and exclusive, in whom the Hebrews believed. 
Unless the Bible had been produced amidst the 
imperfections of human nature and the limita- 
tions of human language, unless it had been true 
to the wanderings and failures of the Israelites, 
it could not have been written. But never can 
even the world's most learned critics discern the 
harmonious inner meaning of the Scriptures by 
mere study of texts, languages or historical con- 

How then shall we discern the inner meaning? 
What is the spiritual value of the Bible to-day? 
Can you and I read it so that it shall not merely 
uplift the soul in the "beauty of holiness,' , as 
when we read the Psalms, but also give us sys- 
tematic spiritual understanding, verifiable by hu- 
man experience and reason? The answer to 
these questions is found by considering once more 

298 The Open Vision 

what the Word was, which "in the beginning was 
with God and was God." We are taken at once 
into the realm of the universal, guided by the idea 
of God as the All-Father who so established hu- 
man existence that however great the darkness 
there should shine within it some measure of the 
light which "illumines every man born into the 
world." If the Word had not been universal 
this could not have been the case. If man had not 
been so constituted as to possess power to com- 
prehend the light, this could not have been true. 
Over and above all visible signs or symbols, 
earlier and more comprehensive than any book, 
there must have been the eternal Word written 
in the heavenly cosmos of the human heart. Be- 
cause this spiritual Word is universal, it may be 
read at any time or any place, by him who has the 
eyes. Because it is universal the clue to it is 
within every race or nation. This Word would 
exist were there no visible books. Men need 
visible books and other aids to thought and wor- 
ship, that they may grow into discernment of 
the Word that is written in the spiritual ex- 
perience of the race. 

The universal Word contains an essence, that 
is to say, divine love and truth, in entire purity; 
and it has a function, namely, to open the spirit- 
ual world, to conjoin men with heaven, to make 
known the pathway of the soul. It is also 

The Book of Life 299 

adapted to the nature and needs of men, and can 
be expressed in the language which men know. 
Historically speaking, it is much more extensive 
and earlier in form than the volume we call the 
Bible, and in another sense it is smaller 
since our Scriptures contain writings of 
secondary value, in contrast with those es- 
pecially adapted to the inner meaning. Doubt- 
less the ancient Asiatics possessed parts of 
this universal Word in written form. We 
should always be cautious in making statements 
concerning the historical extent of the Scriptures. 
What we may declare with confidence is that 
there is a spiritual condition on man's part which 
makes it possible either to discern the universal 
Word or to write and interpret any part. For 
the Word indicates not merely the manner in 
which divine wisdom leads the race along the 
spiritual pathway, but also the stages of human 
response, and the darkness or tribulation through 
which the nations pass. Moreover, there really 
is a difference between the universal Word and 
many books in which man undertakes to inter- 
pret life for himself. Men have found in the 
visible Bible whatever they believed because, 
even in the text, with its record of the wander- 
ings and failures of men, it is the book of the 
totality of human life, adapted to the simple as 
well as to the wise in all ages. What men have 

300 The Open Vision 

lacked is the spiritual science which shall make 
known the inner meaning. This science can be 
acquired only through spiritual ability to discern 
the universal Word, an interior openness, 
quickened by the same Wisdom that produced 
the Word. This enlightenment is as possible to- 
day as at any time in the past. The universality 
of the Word may be verified by one who lifts his 
spirit into that light. For the Bible is an ex- 
position of the principles by which we live and 
move and have our being in God. It contains 
the same law which is "written in all our mem- 
bers." But we must approach in a certain 
spirit, in willingness to be enlightened, putting 
aside preconceptions involving external judg- 
ments. This means putting aside, for the time 
being, the point of view of the higher criticism. 
For we need a clue to the correspondence be- 
tween all things visible and their spiritual coun- 
ter-parts and meanings. Given this insight in 
some slight degree, the Bible becomes like an 
open book, instinct with life and meaning for to- 

We need not look far for clues to this univer- 
sal meaning. The Gospels state in the plainest 
language that the Master employed simple illu- 
sions drawn from the world around and uttered 
parables containing an inner meaning not to be 
taken simply as it reads. We also read about 

The Book of Life 301 

— — — — — ■ — ' i— — — — — — - — — — * 

the letter that "kills" and the words that "are 
spirit and are life." The kingdom of heaven is 
symbolized by visible things said to be "like unto 
it." Although every utterance is simple and di- 
rect, it must be put in signs and symbols, and 
there is no excuse for reading mere words with- 
out their spiritual meaning. 

As the gospel history draws to its close, the 
Master "opens" the Scriptures to those capable 
of discernment, indicates a definite clue to the 
Bible as a whole by singling out the "law and 
the prophets," and by unfolding those Scriptures 
which pertain to the truth which was "from the 
beginning." Turning to the Old Testament 
with these clues, we may learn that, in a distinc- 
tive sense, its central books are written with ref- 
erence to the relation between nature and spirit- 
ual things; hence we may infer that the inner 
meaning may be found in all parts of the Bible. 
Surely, since it is a law which we may all verify 
that "no man can serve two masters," it is equally 
plain that one must choose between fidelity to the 
letter and fidelity to the spirit. Given the spirit, 
we may in time come to see why it clothes itself 
in all the signs and symbols, appearances and 
limitations, of the letter, which men have found 
so baffling. The truth is there in the letter, as 
indeed God's word is written in the whole visible 
universe about us, in our hearts and in everything 

302 The Open Vision 

we do, think, or will; but what is needed is the 
eye to see it. 

We may illustrate by the signs employed in 
musical compositions. No one mistakes these 
signs for music. They involve a plan or orderly 
arrangement such that, given the training, you 
may go to the piano or other instrument and pro- 
duce sounds like those indicated in a certain 
order by the composer. The test of the value in 
these signs is found in the use to which you put 
them; what you produce is part of the "music 
of the spheres." The keener your grasp of the 
principles, the more highly developed your mu- 
sical ability, the less need you have for symbols. 
You will be able to catch a theme, carry it in your 
mind, and work it out. You apprehend, as it 
were, the eternal essence of music, and when 
listening to great music you are sometimes lifted 
above mere space and time. 

Consider now what would happen if in read- 
ing the Scriptures we should endeavor to put 
ourselves into a certain interior state, symbolized 
by the figures of speech used in the Psalms. To 
make any headway, as in music, we should need 
not only to think the subject out, but, as it per- 
tains to life, to live it out. We would then turn 
from the symbol to the reality likened to it, and 
consider the conditions necessary to discern the 
reality. Thus we would come to realize with a 

The Book of Life 303 

conviction that would take deep hold of us, that 
each man must test these spiritual principles for 
himself. The Bible, as thus approached, would 
prove to be the Book of Life. 

If we shall regard the Bible as the book of life, 
we must start with the idea of Life to read it 
aright. All life is from a single source, it flows 
forth into man to quicken his affections through 
love and to enlighten his understanding through 
truth. Life thus spurs man forward in the ac- 
tivities of his daily experience, it teaches him 
from within and from without, it is thus stirring 
in every one of us to-day. Thus stirred, we all 
pass through certain periods of development as 
youth follows childhood, and as we pass on to 
maturity of thought and feeling. In a certain 
age we are external, like the children of Israel. 
We produce idols, and need to have them de- 
stroyed. We need commandments in forms of 
external authority, the visible pillar of cloud, the 
guidance for each day, the given task with its 
tangible reward. Then we are led by the same 
wisdom into a more interior state represented by 
conditions to which the sermon on the mount ap- 

Looking back with the enlightenment now 
ours, we realize that even in the visible tabernacle 
on which we so greatly depended, there was a 
"most holy place" which stood for the inner king- 

304 The Open Vision 

dom; but we could not then discern its real 
meaning. Looking back, we see that we have 
been wisely led every step of the way and as 
rapidly as we could proceed.; What was once a 
mystery now becomes a law. What was 
formerly an external sign and symbol is now 
seen as a thin disguise for inward reality. The 
whole process of life from simple to complex, 
from the external to the internal, was one; but 
we could not know this until we had come into 
possession of the knowledge that all spiritual 
growth is from within outward. Now that we 
are in the process of spiritual reconstruction, we 
are able to see that the Bible is especially the 
book which tells of that quickening Life which 
saves us from our ignorance and self-love. 

The second coming of the Lord, of which the 
Bible tells us in language that long utterly mys- 
tified its readers, may confidently be said to be 
precisely this revelation of the inner meaning 
concealed within the letter. The Bible in the 
letter is indeed full of difficulties and conflicts, is 
ambiguous. Hence the problems raised by the 
higher criticism. Only when viewed in the 
spiritual light do these difficulties and problems 
disappear. There is still need for doctrine, but 
it must be the doctrine which like a "lamp to 
make genuine truths visible" gives the human 
spirit the same clue in the study of the text that 

The Book of Life 305 

is found in the interpretation of experience at 

Granted the spiritual principle of interpreta- 
tion, we may consider difficulties such as the prob- 
lem of non-resistance and find a direct clue. 
For the gospel teaching applies to the realm of 
motives, the source of higher resistances; leav- 
ing the matter of external adaptation to the in- 
dividual Christian. Thus the giving of the cloak 
also, or the turning of the other cheek, is only a 
symbol. Following out the principle of inner 
interpretation, we find the whole gospel disclos- 
ing a unity never noted before. The inconsis- 
tencies and ambiguities are affairs of the letter. 
There would never be an end to these if we 
should stop with the letter, or confine our in- 
terpretation to results attained by the higher 
criticism. The latter is true in its place. It has 
in part come to stay. But its true value cannot 
be discerned save in the light of the inner inter- 

Given the inner clue, we also see what is to 
be the pathway of return for those who have lost 
faith in the Bible There can be no return to the 
old literalism. The way back will be through 
belief that the Bible is the Word despite the limi- 
tations and difficulties of the text. In this sense 
the Bible differs in no way from life itself. Any 
literal study involves difficulties. Life as a whole 

306 The Open Vision 

is like a perplexing text if regarded item by item 
from the outside. There is no end while this is 
our point of view. But then this can never be 
the true point of view. The spiritual vision 
alone affords the interpretative principle. Life 
is for experience, is for faith. Its value is seen 
in the fruitions of the soul's inner history. The 
Bible is true just because it is true to life, because 
it describes the pathway of the soul, with its vi- 
cissitudes, temptations, mysteries, struggles, and 
successes. What is needed is ability to apply it 
as a living book to the events of to-day, finding 
in them the same laws, the same tendencies, and 
withal the same clue to spiritual freedom. 

Thus regarded the Bible is far more than a 
guide to salvation. It is indeed a book about sin 
and the regeneration and all the rest to which 
theology calls our attention. But it is also a 
guide to the constructive study of the human 
spirit. It is essentially a social book, unfolding 
the long life-evolution of man from his earliest 
lapses to the point where the Master comes to 
reveal the true ideal of brotherhood and service. 
If it has meant a thousand things to as many 
interpreters, it should far more truly mean one 
great thing to us to-day through its teaching 
that we are "members one of another." 

We need not trouble over the difficulties raised 
by those who use as their chief instrument the 

The Book of Life 307, 

» ii 

biblical criticism "made in Germany." That 
criticism has been as subtle, as misleading, as 
mischief-making as the sly propagandism which 
we once gave place to in our country, even wel- 
coming high-class German spies as exchange pro- 
fessors in our universities. Like the war con- 
ducted by the Huns in Belgium and northern 
France, it has everywhere left ruins behind. Its 
subtle influences have undermined the faith even 
of innocent teachers who did not know the first 
thing about German thought but were guided by 
the authority of others. It has brought some of 
our ministers to a point where, following external 
clues, they have tried to piece together the frag- 
ments of the Gospels which the destructive work 
has left and to reconstitute Christ as it were from 
the outside. It has rejected John, the greatest 
of Gospels. It has arbitrarily ruled out many 
of the events recorded in the Gospels. It has 
presumed to say precisely what words Jesus 
could have uttered, and what words the Master 
could not have spoken — in accordance with the 
conception of the Master imposed on the Gospels 
by this criticism. In short, it has become as dog- 
matic as the old theology against which the dev- 
otees of modern liberalism have protested. 

In order completely to undermine this criti- 
cism, it would be necessary to look as far back 
as Martin Luther's time. For the Protestant 

308 The Open Vision 

Reformation, despite all its liberalizing in- 
fluences, was in some respects a self-assertive re- 
action in favor of the faith of the individual who 
arrogates too much power to himself. Some of 
the great values of Christian teaching were ob- 
scured by this self-assertion. Other truths were 
wholly lost to view. Kantian philosophical criti- 
cism added its subjective tendencies to those of 
the Reformation. In bondage as we have been 
to German intellectualism, we have borrowed any 
number of critical tendencies. Instead of seek- 
ing the inner meaning of the Gospels, we have 
developed theologies out of the Pauline Epistles. 
We have then read our chosen system of ideas 
into the Gospels. Hence Protestantism has 
more and more divided into sects. It is not 
strange that under the conditions faith was dif- 

But how different is the result when we seek 
the principles which disclose the living Lord! 
We may then read the Bible to seek light on the 
divine providence, for instance, in war-time. 
That is to say, the Bible is profoundly and very 
truly a book about the inner warfare of the soul 
as the clue to man's outer warfare. The his- 
torical events of the earlier books are relatively 
incidental. What signifies is the inner history 
culminating in the coming of the Messiah. 

The original Christianity of the Master of life 

The Book of Life 309 

and death is so much greater, truer than the 
Christianity of most of the churches, that we 
would lead men to that. The simple, direct 
teachings of the Gospels are so much greater, 
truer than all the theologies founded on the 
Pauline Epistles, that we would lead men back 
to the Gospels. The true message of comfort 
for those whose loved ones have left their sight 
is indeed in the Bible. But the Bible has been to 
a considerable extent neglected, that is, in so far 
as it addresses itself to the whole man, in its 
teaching concerning the nearness of the spiritual 
world, the reality of angelic presences, and in 
other noteworthy respects. We have put our 
creeds above the Bible. We have read the inter- 
pretations of our creed into the text. We have 
judged by the letter. Meanwhile, the Word it- 
self reminds us with eloquent emphasis that 
"The words that I speak unto you, they are 
spirit and they are life." 

The test will then be our ability to read in 
these words a life-carrying message for to-day, 
the day of new social issues, issues which seem 
to have no solution until at last we find the di- 
vine clue. Thus to read will be to look more 
deeply into the tendencies of the day in quest of 
the spirit in them, the divine purpose; always 
making allowances for the changed conditions 
since the days of the coming of Christ on earth. 

310 The Open Vision 

Thus to read is to realize that the light shines 
afresh which lightens every man that is born into 
the world. This light is the power of the eternal 
Word which "was in the beginning." All things 
were made according to that light. All things 
were made by Him who was and is its source. 
The light, the source, and the truth are insepa- 



Probably every one who is trying to live the 
Christian life has a rule which simplifies the 
spiritual ideal to a single practical principle. The 
system of the Christian life as a whole is essen- 
tial. So is each of its parts. The thought of the 
infinite has its rightful place. The universe is 
vast and complex, and a great system of thought 
is needed to represent its wisdom and beauty. 
Life too is complex, and there are appropriate 
times for dwelling on its magnitude. Yet that 
which is most complex may become for us the 
most genuinely simple, if we concentrate upon a 
rule of life which applies to each situation upon 
the daily highway. 

Such a rule is found in the principle of the in- 
ward light, "the light of Christ in the soul," as the 
Friends call it. This principle stands for the 
living presence of God today, "the voice of God 
in the soul of man;" for the nearness of the spirit- 
ual world and the guidances coming therefrom. 
It expresses the universality of the Holy Spirit 
or Comforter. It is not advocated in contrast 
with the Bible as a record of what men did and 


312 The Open Vision 

believed in the far past when they were guided 
by the divine providence, but it makes the inner 
meaning of the Bible a living Word, a witness to 
the truth that there is an eternal Word, universal 
and invisible, not limited by time or place or by 
language. He who endeavors to live by the in- 
ward light today, each hour and moment, should 
be able to confirm from actual experience the 
teachings of the Word as the universal clue to 
the spiritual life. 

If we look back to ancient Israel, in the 
journey toward the promised land, we realize 
how long must have been the progress of man 
till he came to the period of the inward light as 
an emphatically inner experience requiring no 
outward sign or symbol. The sons of Israel 
were so far external that they required such a 
symbol as the manna, said to have fallen in abun- 
dance for each day, and for that day only, as 
a sign of the divine providence. The pillar of 
cloud was said to move forward when the Israel- 
ites should fold their tents and depart. It stood 
still when they ought to encamp. Obedience to 
these changing signs was typical of inner obedi- 
ence. Then there was the tabernacle with its 
"holy place," to be entered on the proper occa- 
sions by those dedicated to this purpose. Within 
the tabernacle were the commandments in visible 
form as guides for daily conduct in civil and 

The Inward Light 313 

spiritual affairs, for a people still dependent on 
prohibitions in such forms. Finally, there were 
times of unusual need when Moses was given the 
guidance for the hour, the guidance which came 
only in case he "stood still," and asked what God 
would have him say and do as leader. 

The dawn of the Christian era witnessed 
changed conditions. The Hebrews were still ex- 
ternal, so far indeed from knowledge of the true 
light that they failed to recognize the Messiah 
in the flesh before them. Yet the conditions 
were such that in the sermon on the mount the 
same law enunciated for the Israelites of Moses's 
time was restated for those able to discern the 
wisdom of the inner life. The most holy place of 
the external tabernacle now became "the secret 
place" of the heart into which every one might 
enter, where any one could commune with the 
Father who should close the door upon the outer 
world. Instead of the priest whose function was 
to seek divine wisdom apart from the people and 
in their behalf, we now have a universal prayer 
for daily help and daily bread as the guide to 
man's social life. We also have a sharp contrast 
between merely external worship, fasting, and 
prayer; and the true receptivity which is of the 
heart. There is no visible manna or cloud, or 
any similar sign or symbol. In place of symbols 
to hold the mind upon the commandments, we 

314 The Open Vision 

have emphasis on brotherly love and the one 
great principle that, whatever the occasion, what 
we need is provided by the Father. 

There is a central law which governs the entire 
sphere of the divine providence as thus incul- 
cated: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his 
righteousness, and all these things shall be added 
unto you." Here in brief we have the entire 
plan of heavenly things. The more clearly we 
understand this central principle, the more wisely 
we may seek the inward light. For the principle 
implies the entire system, the complete Word of 
God. It also involves a certain conception of 
man's spiritual nature as recipient of the inward 

This law means that all spiritual progress is 
from within outward, for the kingdom which we 
are bidden to seek pertains to the inner life. All 
the promptings that send men forth to service 
are from this source. So is all the goodness, life, 
love, which gives power to such service. Not- 
only is the original impetus from within, but so 
is each guidance along the way, all that is sup- 
plied by way of assistance to the central impetus. 
There is an impelling current or outflow from the 
secret place into the first stages of the soul's 
accomplishments, and continuing — if man is 
faithful, to the final stage. He who shall keep 
in touch with that impetus from first to last will 

The Inward Light 315 

— — — *— P— ■ MM — — — — 1 L II — I — — l II I UL ■■ ^ ■■■1 —■■»!! ■■■!■■ ■ ■■■■■ ■■ ■ ■ «—*— WW— ——■ 

find that every detail is provided for, so that the 
divine gift shall be coincident with the need and 
adequate to meet it. There will often be dis- 
cernible to the eye of one who follows the course 
of events with thought fulness and exact corre- 
spondence in time and place, between need and 
supply. It is the impelling activity from within 
which achieves the desired end. External con- 
ditions are essential and these should be favor- 
able, but they are not causes. It is imperative 
that we hold the inner point of view, the vision 
of the kingdom as fulfilling the divine purpose. 
Otherwise we may misinterpret some of our ex- 
periences as if the correspondence were due to 

Again, there is a certain condition to be ful- 
filled. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and 
his righteousness." What is the righteousness of 
the kingdom? The entire sermon on the mount 
is the answer. Here we have in detail a state- 
ment of the ancient "law and the prophets." 
From time to time one needs to take up portions 
of the great sermon to make sure that one is fol- 
lowing the law in its interior form, not as a 
merely external code. One should make sure 
that one is living by this law in detail as a living 
inner principle. Everything depends upon the 
motive and attitude, even the passing desire and 
thought. It no longer suffices to keep the law 

316 The Open Vision 

in external deeds simply. Even to lust "in 
thought" is to sin. Nor may one be true to the 
law of righteousness by becoming so absorbed in 
the interior kingdom that one's light is hidden 
there in mere receptivity. We must give in 
order to receive. There must be efflux or ex- 
pression, if we would have the heavenly influx 
increase. The light is so to shine that one shall 
live as much in the external as if not taught that 
the kingdom is "within;" for the true Christian- 
ity is social, although always developing from 
within outward, guided by the divine light, not 
by outward conditions. 

When we come to the application of this prin- 
ciple to our life today we realize that the times 
have again changed. We have moved forward 
to the age when a new light is shining, when more 
truly than ever before each and every man may 
lift his mind into the light of heaven and receive 
wisdom for the occasion. We have grown too 
into more intimate knowledge of that region of 
man's nature in which he is able to cooperate with 
the living, present inflow of divine power. We 
now see that since the principle of the inward 
light is universal, applicable in all times and 
places, the guidance for today is as real as the 
record of human experiences of its presence in 
the past. The law enunciated in its inner form 
in the sermon on the mount is still our law, and 

The Inward Light 317 

we have not departed from the needs and de- 
mands of that sermon. But the wisdom for us 
is discoverable in the present leadings which dis- 
close divine wisdom in a new light according to 
the conditions of the inner life of each of us 
today. For the social order has changed, and 
we as individuals have other needs under new 
circumstances. The question is, Are we able as 
individuals to apply the sermon on the mount 
to our requirements so that we seek the kingdom 
of God as a living divine order amidst new con- 
ditions? Are we able to live by the divine light 
as real for us today, not as if borrowed from the 
past in mere terms of the past? Do we realize 
that in deepest truth a new heaven and a new 
earth are being established? 

At first thought this emphasis on the present 
seems to be an exaltation of the individual man, 
as if we were estimating his own present feel- 
ings above the commandments. Yet we do not 
raise this doubt when it is a question of the con- 
tinued existence of nature and of human life. 
Life as it passes for us today is far more real 
than our thought of life in the time of Moses. 
Our conscious experience is always most real in 
the present moment, however much we may draw 
upon our past. One's love for a friend is still 
real if true and expressive today. At any mo- 
ment one's real self is a summary of all the in- 

318 The Open Vision 

tellectual tendencies and the affections which 
have survived the years that have gone. For bet- 
ter or worse each of us lives by what has thus 
endured. We do not live by what we were. 
Some of our tendencies have run out. Some of 
our affections have waned. Our life fades into 
mere history as we look back. The future which 
we anticipate will be in some measure different 
from our anticipations. What just now avails 
is what we love most, is our present realization of 
the divine love and wisdom as living, dynamic, 

The human self as it exists today is a direct 
clue. We receive the divine love from an in- 
finite source, yet only so much of that love is 
intimately real as we can respond to and live 
by as if it were our own. We are open by influx 
to the divine wisdom, yet only so much of its in- 
finitude of truths is real for us as we can assimi- 
late in active thought as our own. The divine 
light shines within us in its constancy in order to 
lead us without break from reality to reality, the 
living present always being the most real. "For 
with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light 
shall we see light." 

As truly as the pillar of cloud advanced for the 
Hebrews when they ought to move forward, in 
specific adaptation to those far-off and very 
crude times, so does the divine light shine to- 

The Inward Light 319 

day in direct application to its needs and condi- 
tions. The individual feelings and thoughts of 
the person seeking the direct guidance today cor- 
respond to the external signs of old. The law 
is still "written in all our members." It is still 
true that "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, 
and a light unto my path." The sanctuary is 
in our own heart accompanied by conditions 
which we may learn to understand, if we regard 
the living word today as real, revealed anew in 
the light of our age. 

It is of course impossible to state the situation 
apart from our human tendency to confuse the 
divine light with personal sentiments. Only 
through experience, guided by constant reference 
to the heavenly standard may we learn to know 
the true light. There is no personal feeling to 
save us in advance from all mistakes. The test 
of divine truth is the test of reality, reason, and 
experience. The divine light is precisely that 
principle which guides us despite our errors and 
wanderings, that we may learn through these 
wanderings the way to spiritual wisdom. We 
may lift all our problems and needs into heavenly 
light for guidance. We may test all knowledge 
by that light. 

What then is this rule of life in brief? That 
in the divine providence there is a pathway of the 
soul different in some measure for each of us 

320 The Open Vision 

yet alike in other respects, so nearly the same for 
all that the sermon on the mount is the universal 
clue. That each has a purpose to fulfill, and 
that this purpose will be made apparent from 
time to time according to our needs. That a 
living divine impetus is active in our inmost self- 
hood, ready to give us leadings hour by hour. 
That there is a way to penetrate through any 
possible darkness to the heavenly light. That 
there is a way to solve every problem, a light 
for every occasion, including those occasions that 
pertain to our ordinary life in the world. 

What shall one do to find the divine light, to 
know and follow it? When you have a plan 
of action under consideration, put it upon the 
altar of thought to see if it be burned away, al- 
lowing time for the reactions of your own bet- 
ter nature. When you have a problem of daily 
conduct to solve, turn first to the secret place of 
the divine light and pray for guidance. When 
eager for spiritual truth, remember that a new 
light is shining, that there is an "inner dictate" 
by which all may be led: leave all externalities 
and formal statements and lay your needs before 
the Father "who seeth in secret" as truly today 
as at any time in the hallowed past. In any need 
that may arise follow the same course. Turn 
first to the direct source of light, wherever you 
may look later. Give intuition a free opportun- 

The Inward Light 321 

■ ■ 

ity before you begin to seek advice, discuss mat- 
ters, or examine external authorities. Then gain 
the needed contrast by seeking the best light you 
can find elsewhere. If the inner clue leads you 
to the Bible which, as if by chance you open at 
the "right place," follow the clue. Be guided 
first and last by the divine light and return to 
it if you lose touch with its guidances. 

When people come and ask you to engage in 
this or that enterprise, pause to see if the pro- 
posed plan meet with the inward response of your 
higher nature. When exponents of doctrines 
urge their beliefs upon you, take the teachings in 
question under advisement to see what present 
spiritual life, if any, they have in them. When 
in doubt whether to proceed in your affairs as 
you have hitherto lived, pause to await a new 
impetus, favorable or unfavorable, as the case 
may be. Put essential matters and creeds to the 
test to see if they still bespeak the authority of 
the spiritual life today. If no longer able to 
give yourself with spontaneity to your work, 
test this unresponsiveness and seek new clues to 
the spontaneously true and real. In the absence 
of direct leadings for the conduct of the hour, or 
checks to action in the name of conscience, pro- 
ceed as you have until brought to a stand-still. 
Seek anew the kingdom of God, that what is 
needed for its expression may be added. 

322 The Open Vision 

We note also that the law as stated for the in- 
ner life comes not to destroy but to fulfill. We 
are not bidden to throw away older teachings 
because they are external in form. We are not 
called on to renounce approved social obser- 
vances or even the world. A new heavenly 
light now casts its added glow on all that we 
possessed before, and we view the entire field of 
human activity by the aid of its superior illumin- 
ation. The light may at first be a mere "gleam of 
darkness," but well may we pray to have a gleam 
of genuinely living light increase, in contrast 
with borrowed light or merely historical author- 
ity. The "inner dictate" may seem but feeble 
and indistinct, but let it be heard with reverence. 

To believe in the inward light is not to be vague, 
not to listen at random. One brings to the silent 
hour the best that one has to give, in quest of 
the highest. One turns to the secret place to 
learn the divine wisdom, to know the divine pur- 
pose and realize it; not to enter into self, or to 
exalt personal experience. The light that comes 
is measured by the quest for it, by the capacity 
of the lamp as at present trimmed and kept burn- 
ing. The divine love that inflows cannot, or 
rather does not, penetrate more effectively un- 
til there is increased outflow through greater love 
for one's fellows. The inward light is the guide 
to cooperation with divine wisdom, not to mere 

The Inward Light 323 

■ — » — i ■ ' — — — — — i i 

The law is complete as a whole -and in every 
detail. If aware of it by means of the inner 
dictate, instead of by mere reference to author- 
ity, you have a standard by which to measure or 
test every element of experience in daily life. 
The simple rule is, Be true to the inward light 
as a living standard. Expect all the experiences 
that normally belong to spiritual beings dwelling 
even here and now in the spiritual world. 

Under the changed conditions of our time, I 
repeat, a new light is shining. This new light 
does not guide us to a man in the flesh, or to a 
tabernacle touched by a cloud. It sends us to 
the same God, the same interior kingdom, but 
it supplies the new clue for the new age, you can- 
not read it aright in any age that has gone before. 
The movement of enlightened thought is from 
within outward. Therefore first elevate your 
mind into its heavenly light, pray that your inner 
eye may be opened, your inner ear made recep- 
tive, that you may begin from the direct source 
of all true illumination. You may then turn to 
history and to the Bible as the open Book of Life, 
and read by reference to the living word discerni- 
ble within the heart. 

This is plainly what illumination means in the 
rational sense. We need not put the possibility 
far from us. We may see "in a glass darkly" 
at first, but later "face to face." The great 

324 The Open Vision 

thought is that all light is one, from a single 
source, the same light which has ever quickened 
every man born into the world. We may well 
look for greater manifestations of this light as 
clues to the right social life for the day. We may 
well endeavor to be true to the living Word 
"written in all our members." 

"The entrance of thy words giveth light." 
"Ye are the light of the world. Let your light 
so shine before men, that they may see your good 
works, and glorify your Father which is in 
heaven." The inward light in this its larger or 
social sense becomes our guide when we have 
heard anew those marvellous words of old: "I 
am the light of the world: he that followeth me 
shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light 
of life." 



We have been guided in the foregoing inter- 
pretations of the inner life by a certain view of 
the human spirit. By no means denying that the 
spirit is limited by mental life in general, and that 
the mind in turn is limited by the brain, we have 
nevertheless seen that there is much more to be 
said about the spirit than can be adequately stated 
when we have acknowledged such relatedness to 
the full. The brain is an instrument for the for- 
mation and preservation of habits, and the mind 
tends to function in the ways which these habits 
permit. In its own freer field the mind readily 
acquires regular modes of activity, too, so that 
automatisms play a part even in the sphere of 
psychical experiences of comparatively recent 
origin. Our subconsciousness is a reproduction 
of our conscious life, hence this deeper portion of 
our mental life also participates in automatic ac- 
tions. It requires acute attentiveness on our part 
to keep our subconsciousness from intruding and 
projecting thoughts or "messages," although in 
our conscious selfhood we have every reason to 
avoid such inventiveness. Yet we might overdo 


326 The Open Vision 

the hypothesis that our subconsciousness produces 
psychical experience. For we need constantly 
to remind ourselves that every effect has a cause, 
and that people develop interests in psychical ex- 
perience in the first place because of spontaneous 
impressions or guidances; hence that psychical 
experiences cannot be explained away as sheer 
cogitations of our own inner life. 

Our view of the human spirit turns upon the 
discovery of intuitive powers whose existence 
must be frankly acknowledged, whatever we may 
believe concerning the objective reality of psy- 
chical phenomena. There is much more to be 
said in behalf of the spirit than is told by conven- 
tional psychology, with its fascination for mere 
sense-processes. Our knowledge of the natural 
world begins indeed through the presentations of 
our senses. We are creatures of instinct, emo- 
tion, bodily activities centering about earthly de- 
sires, and thoughts tending to foster self-love and 
love of the world. All this is true so far as it 
reaches. But we have vestiges at least of higher 
instincts than those of the mere body. We have 
not lost all our sensitivity to inner impressions. 
If we are at times creatures of moods and the 
duality of self, we also have higher moments of 
consciousness, and we are not limited by sheer in- 
ferences based on physical facts. Mental influ- 
ences in various forms relate us to people near us 

Positive Values 327 

in type. There is thought-interchange to some 
extent. We receive direct impressions of char- 
acter, we have feelings "in the bones" which come 
true, we have premonitions and leadings which 
may be trusted. No account of the human spirit 
is acceptable which does not faithfully describe 
these inner experiences. By implication the hu- 
man spirit is as extensive and varied as all these 
experiences indicate. The profound considera- 
tion is that the operations of this intuitive phase 
of our nature imply the ability of the spirit to 
function independently of matter. That is to 
say, as spirits we are more directly related to one 
another than by means of the brain with its pow- 
ers of expression through audible speech, hand- 
writing, gestures, facial changes, and the like. 

We have seen that to make ready to interpret 
psychical experiences we need to distinguish be- 
tween external phenomena, such as the operation 
of a board or pencil; and inner phenomena, that 
is, mental impressions, conscious and subcon- 
scious. We need also to distinguish between in- 
ward impressions and auditory or visual illusions, 
since the real question is, What actually takes 
place in the human spirit? Having pressed the 
hypothesis of illusions as far as it can be carried, 
we still have to do with inward experiences which 
are real for the one who participates in them. 

Pressing this contrast still further, we have 

328 The Open Vision 


found that the intelligible clue is found, not by- 
putting the conscious self over against the sub- 
conscious; but by discriminating between out- 
ward and inward mental states. Thus, for ex- 
ample, there is an external memory, with its man- 
ifold associations pertaining to our life in the 
outer world. But there is also an internal mem- 
ory connected with character, our real motives 
and interests, beliefs and affections, the events 
we have lived through which deeply influenced us. 
We share the items of our external selfhood to a 
large extent with our fellowmen in the ordinary 
routine of life. We pass current in the world for 
what the outer self appears to be. Meanwhile, 
we well know that what we are in deepest truth is 
what the inner life discloses, with its actual at- 
tainments, limitations, attitudes, whatever the ex- 
ternal appearances may be. A few genuine 
friends with whom we are in close affinity know 
this inner self in some degree, but how much more 
there is which no friend knows ! This is the self 
or character which will survive the transition 
called death. It is the self which attracts spir- 
itual guidance. Spiritually, we are always 
judged and helped by what we are, not by what 
we appear to be. 

Since it is the spirit in its interior life which 
attracts experiences needed for growth and self- 
mastery, the guidances which are vouchsafed us 

Positive Values 329 

correspond with the spirit's state of development. 
There is an impetus or tendency, let us say, stead- 
ily to bring to us as spirits whatever we most need 
that we may live our life in the world, do our spe- 
cific work, and meet the opportunities which can 
best be met while we live this earth-life. We 
need not go out to seek the conditions. What is 
for us in the divine love and wisdom is already 
tending toward us, and will come when we are 
ready. Our part is to welcome what is brought 
by this inward guidance, in firm faith that the 
power, the wisdom, the love will be given us to 
achieve, to be obedient, and to serve. What 
comes may not be what we desire, for it will call 
for victory over self-will and love of the world; 
but it will be what we need. For what comes will 
be adapted to the point we have attained in the 
age-long struggle between spirit and matter, the 
inner man and the outer, God and self. 

Yet we may and should seek to put our spirits 
into the right attitude to test all matters we do 
not understand. For the inner life is the sanctu- 
ary of the spirit, the place of the shining of that 
inward light which illumines the pathway of the 
soul. When spontaneous illuminations have 
come, for instance, at four in the morning, and we 
have learned the conditions to some degree, we 
may invite those conditions and so depend more 
and more upon guidances coming in the fitness 

330 The Open Vision 

of time. However faint the light shining in our 
spirits, it is the same in kind with that which has 
guided the great seers of the ages that have gone, 
the same in kind with the light which we find in 
the Scriptures. Therefore we may believe in it 
wholly, realizing that it is part of the eternal rea- 
son which discloses divine truth to men. In fact, 
this light is "the spirit of truth" which leads into 
all truth, the spirit of the Comforter, the living 
Christ. The characteristic of its disclosures is 
that it comes with authority, with power; is not 
dependent on mere facts and mere inferences. 

The great difference in the attitude which this 
guidance quickens in us and the one we are led 
to adopt while investigating psychical phenomena 
is that while the inward light yields reality with 
great clearness and its guidances inspire implicit 
obedience, the investigator's spirit is full of cau- 
tion, alert to suggest alternative explanations and 
to raise doubts. I must believe in guidance if I 
would be true to myself. I am free to question 
psychical experiences save so far as guidance 
leads me to see their rationale. 

For example, long experience in these matters 
may have taught me that it is possible to receive 
inner confirmation of whatever I should believe. 
Thus I may have received on occasion a single 
sentence from some one near me in spiritual pres- 
ence, coming with such distinctness, reality, and 

Positive Values 331 

power that I could not doubt it. Hence I may 
have come to see that for me at least the way to 
receive a genuine message is to receive it directly 
by inward impression. Hence I may have grown 
to be very sceptical concerning long messages, 
since experience has taught me that ( 1 ) it is dif- 
ficult for the communicating spirit to convey the 
exact words for any length of time, and (2) after 
a few minutes the mind of the recipient tends to 
enlarge upon the original words and hence depart 
further from the actual message. The message 
as developed at length out of the pictographic 
process might indeed be mostly genuine. For all 
one can positively say to the contrary an autom- 
atist might receive fairly accurate messages with- 
out limit. But narrowing matters down to the 
minimum which simply must be believed as gen- 
uine, word for word, despite the acutest scepti- 
cism, one is bound to express utmost faith in guid- 
ance coming in the form of a short message. 

To be sure, one might be led in a secondary 
way to investigate psychical phenomena and their 
associates, one might observe people experiment- 
ing with the ouija board or using the pencil, and 
one might read books such as "Living Waters," 
"The New Revelation," or "The Hill of Vision" 
to see whither all these things tend, and to dis- 
criminate according to such principles as those 
laid down in the foregoing pages. But, plainly, 

332 The Open Vision 

one cannot step back, one cannot lower the stand- 
ard, and one is bound to be as critical as the sheer 
unbeliever whenever guidance permits. The re- 
sult is a growing conviction in the power and per- 
suasiveness of guidance over and above the fluctu- 
ating factor of the intellect, with its sceptical 
processes and relativities. For our intellects are 
too much influenced by conventional education 
and externals, by such doctrines as religious edu- 
cation has imposed upon us. The spirit, when 
acting intuitively and freely, is interior to all this. 
Hence one comes to see the difference between 
psychical experience as the intellect regards it and 
such experience as it is illumined by the spirit. 

Again, experience may narrow down the situ- 
ation for me still further, and I may not for a 
long period receive even a single sentence from 
a mind beyond my own. I may in fact be merely 
aware of a presence with me from time to time, 
some one who seems commissioned to aid me in 
the work I am doing, as an accomplished artist 
might stand near a pupil with interest or ap- 
proval, but never uttering a word unless the nov- 
ice should make a false stroke. The friend in 
the spirit might aid me to keep my mind in the 
light, and indicate the way to put my work into 
the light in order that I should see its defects for 
myself; and yet never in the least degree exert 
any influence to control my will or my thought. 

Positive Values 333 

Further, he might prompt various friends in the 
flesh to bring me the books which I should read to 
make my intellectual investigations complete, and 
these friends might bring me what I need without 
being in the least degree aware that they were 
participating in my work. In fact, one of the 
profoundest reasons for believing in guidance is 
seen in the fact of minds cooperating independ- 
ently to carry on a work without knowing that 
they are making such contributions. 

If for the sake of the hypothesis we should en- 
deavor to explain all the activities of the inner 
selfhood on the basis of the self alone, as if there 
were no communion with minds either in the flesh 
or beyond the flesh, we would still have on our 
hands for explanation the profound fact of the 
working together of events toward a common end. 
This "working of all things together" has always 
been one of the facts which has led people to be- 
lieve in guidance. Some life or wisdom is behind 
the several lines of activity. The mere operation 
of intuition in general seems insufficient to ac- 
count for this united action. Nor does it seem 
possible to explain the whole relationship on the 
basis of unconscious telepathy between minds in 
the flesh. The more plausible explanation is that 
we are open in spirit both to friends in the flesh 
and to those beyond it. When engaged in a 
piece of work requiring guidance on the future 

334 The Open Vision 

life, we are more likely to receive it from the spir- 
itual world. When facing moral issues demand- 
ing self-mastery we are more likely to walk with 
God alone. 

Whether or not we believe that our guidances 
come in part through friends in the spirit, we 
seem bound therefore to hold that our guidances 
belong together, and that they imply a higher 
wisdom than our own. This conviction leads to 
very direct and inspiring belief in the presence 
of God through love and wisdom. It reinforces 
the idea of the divine providence. It strengthens 
belief in individuality and a distinct purpose for 
each of us. Thus we once more place emphasis 
on primary considerations, less concerned to dis- 
cover the conditions through which the divine 
life is mediated to us. Nevertheless, we have a 
much clearer way of thinking about those condi- 
tions, with every reason to cultivate intuition, to 
observe the comings and goings of spontaneous 
impressions, especially the insights which come 
like a flash. We have a more definite idea where 
our illuminating clues come from, and we see the 
difference between these gleams from the inward 
light and ordinary psychical messages. 

To accept the idea of guidances belonging to- 
gether and possibly coming in part through 
friends in the spiritual word is, however, to raise 
the old question of the relationship between the 

Positive Values 335 

world of time and the world in which time as we 
are aware of it is unknown. What shall we say 
about guidances which anticipate experience and 
predictions which come true? Apparently, se- 
quences of events are seen from the spiritual 
world, and these sequences seem to correspond 
in a measure with the succession of events 
in time as we know them. Thus one may 
receive a guidance in advance of experience 
to the effect that a journey covering months 
will be successful and without accident; for 
example, a voyage across the dangerous seas 
and into the war-zone, with all the contingencies 
due to the menacing presence of submarines and 
bombing planes. Then guidances may come 
from stage to stage of the journey to indicate 
when it is right to proceed or to wait, in so far 
as military regulations permit of choice. Again, 
premonitions of danger may come, and one may 
postpone a journey. Or perchance the premoni- 
tion may be fulfilled, in the case of an individual 
who persists in making a journey despite an im- 
pression not to do so or a "feeling" that it will 
end fatally. In any event there appears to be a 
fixed sequence into which we may plunge or in 
which we may refuse to participate. 

Many people assure us that they have had im- 
pressions of this kind. Here, for example, is a 
man about to start on a long railway journey 

336 The Open Vision 

and who is deterred for a day by a premonition 
that there is to be an accident. Later he learns 
that the train on which he would have journeyed 
met with an accident in which a number of people 
in the rear sleeper which he would have taken 
were killed. The deterring impression came 
twenty-four hours before the accident. 

Here is another man who, while travelling on 
an express train going at a high rate of speed, 
receives an impression to change his seat to an- 
other part of the car, and on the other side ; and 
so his life is saved in an accident occurring a 
while later in which the side of the car on which 
he had been sitting was torn off. Returning 
home on the following day and before he tells 
any one of his escape, his sister tells him that two 
evenings before a guidance came to her, most 
unexpectedly, to pray for her brother, since he 
would be in danger the next day. This man is 
greatly impressed by this two-fold evidence of 
guidance. He is a Quaker, hence habitually a 
believer in guidance, and he has many interesting 
incidents to tell of more than half a century of 
experiences indicating that all guidances belong 
together in the divine purpose. 

In the case of premonitions of danger in which 
people have foreseen their death, it is of course 
plausible to say that the persons in question have 
literally but unconsciously fulfilled the predic- 

Positive Values 337 

tions because they believed in them. But this 
explanation does not account for instances in 
which people have tried their best to avoid all dan- 
gerous circumstances, so as not to realize the pre- 
diction ; and yet, despite all changes of plan, have 
unwittingly put themselves into the danger which 
they sought to avoid. Nor does it account for 
premonitions coming to soldiers of the exact cir- 
cumstances of their death, a few days later, con- 
ditions which they would have avoided if possi- 
ble, but which they were compelled by military 
orders to realize. 

The easiest assumption to make is that predes- 
tination is true, hence that no effort on one's part 
will make the slightest difference. Belief in 
"destiny" is indeed widespread among people 
who have had premonitions. Fatalism is readily 
fostered in war-time, when everybody seems 
bound down to a fixed series of events, as if their 
lives were necessary products of events that have 
gone before. 

No belief more sharply conflicts with our moral 
convictions, however, than the idea of fatalism as 
the universal law of human life. Nothing comes 
to us with greater assurance from the spiritual 
world than the statement that we are free, hence 
that predestination is untrue. The conclusion 
that every event is predetermined seems hasty 
indeed. The facts of guidance do not compel us 

338 The Open Vision 

to believe that we are forewarned of "the inevi- 
table." They do not give us information con- 
cerning what is necessary -or fate-driven, but what 
is probable — if we follow the guidance from stage 
to stage. One is not bound to obey. Indeed 
some of us have come to know guidance by con- 
trast with instances of it which we have wilfully 
disregarded. Guidance reveals wisdom, not 
necessity. It is sometimes accompanied by sen- 
tences containing exact dates, with the month and 
day, and sometimes not. Some of the precise 
predictions are fulfilled in point of time, others 
are not. Plainly, the element of time depends on 
mundane events which may develop quickly or 
slowly according to conditions not yet seen. All 
we need infer, so far as the perception of our 
spirit-friends is concerned, is that there is fore- 
sight of a sequence presently to be realized 
through what we call "time," with all its contin- 
gencies and delays. The sequence of events may 
indeed seem sure, that is, the gathering of forces 
to produce a certain result. But a prediction in 
point of time is hazardous. 

Granted foresight of conditions taking shape 
to produce events about to occur in the world of 
time, a prophecy might be made which we could 
identify with subsequent historical events. Thus 
the statements in "The Seven Purposes" concern- 
ing perilous "drives" during the last year of the 

Positive Values 339 

war become intelligible. Thus one might accept 
the predictions of "The Hill of Vision" made 
three years before the war began, no precise dates 
being then hazarded. Only a little more diffi- 
cult would be the exact prediction that the war 
would end August 25th, 1918, a prophecy re- 
ceived several months before that date. For this 
date need not be taken too seriously, and it will 
always be matter of question whether the tide 
actually turned at that time. The truth in such 
predictions becomes intelligible to us when we 
first consider more definitely how earthly events 
may be foreseen under the very different condi- 
tions of the spiritual world. 1 

It is essential to bear constantly in mind that 
the spiritual world affords a vision of causes in 
operation before their effects are seen in this 
world. This vision includes not only the activity 
of beings in that world whose powers may be 
far greater than ours, but insight into the real 
motives and plans, however secret, of people in 
this world, notably those who are stealthily mak- 
ng ready to plunge the world into a great war. 
But if the assembling of hostile forces is thus ap- 
parent, the gathering of constructive forces must 
be no less plain. Thus there is undoubtedly a 

i Elsewhere I have argued, and still believe, that the tide began 
to turn July 15, when the German offensive was halted on the 
Champagne front; see "On the Threshold of the Spiritual World,". 
Chap. III. 

340 The Open Vision 

complete view of all the human elements involved 
n the vast operation, hence definite statements are 
possible. Then too we need to remind ourselves 
that many contests are seen as settled from the 
spiritual point of view long before their conse- 
quences in the realm of effects have been wrought 
out to the end. 

Possibly, we might illustrate by such observa- 
tions and predictions as may come within our 
power when, standing upon a mountain top over- 
looking a wide stretch of country, with plains and 
valleys, we see gathering in the far distance a 
forthcoming thunder-storm. Knowing the coun- 
try well, we may be able to predict that the storm 
will follow the course of a river winding seaward 
through the level country, and we might send 
telephonic messages to inhabitants in the valley 
along the river warning them of the approaching 
storm. Then, the storm having passed our vant- 
age-point, we might see the clear sky above the 
region where it originated, and inform the people 
along the river, still in the throes of the storm, 
that it will presently come to an end. We might 
indeed undertake to tell the precise time when 
the storm will cease, and the prediction might 
come true. But the storm might spend itself less 
quickly than we anticipated, and it might return 
over its course in part. Thus there might be 
phases of the storm which we could not foretell, 

Positive Values 341 

despite the fact that from the point of view of 
its origin its forces might seem well spent. 

Making allowances for differences in the forces 
in question, this seems to be the kind of predic- 
tions we have to consider in endeavoring to ac- 
count for the accuracies amidst the variations in 
the case of the precise statement that the war 
would end August 25, 1918. The editor of 
"The Hill of Vision'* adduces military evidence 
to show that this date could be regarded as the 
time when the tide turned. In the forecast from 
the spiritual world it was plain that the forces in 
operation would reach their climax after a certain 
period of struggle which could be identified with 
the conditions of the war as then in operation on 
earth. With sure vision of all the forces in ac- 
tion, the communicating spirit might venture to 
make an exact prophecy. But the precise state- 
ment concerning the point of time would be sub- 
ject to contingencies. 

The communicating spirit states the general 
principle as follows: "We have this difficulty, 
that though we control spiritual forces which 
manifest themselves in Matter, yet we are often 
unconscious of the spiritless movements of Mat- 
ter after the withdrawal of the spiritual work in 
time." l In the profoundest sentence in the 
whole book, the illuminating statement is made 

i "The Hill of Vision," p. 38. 

342 The Open Vision 

that time is "the ratio of the resistance of Matter 
to the interpenetration of the Spirit." That is 
to say, the whole struggle in process here on earth 
is a contest between Matter and Spirit, Dark- 
ness and Light, Self and God. In the spiritual 
world the struggle is seen from the vantage-point 
of Spirit, while we see it mostly in the light of 
the effects produced on Matter. From above, 
the discerning eye sees that Spirit has accom- 
plished its work, even before the storm has sub- 
sided on earth. Hence the prophecies are given 
from the point of view of decisive causes, and 
sometimes they are made so precise that the ele- 
ment of time is included. But not all the after- 
effects in the realm of matter are foreseen by 
any means. Hence the prophecies may fall 
short in point of time: we should never rely on 
them absolutely. We, on the other hand, ob- 
serve the events from the point of view of the 
resistance offered by matter, and we are pain- 
fully aware of the after-effects. 

For practical purposes, therefore, it is wiser 
for us to dwell on the powers at work to bring 
about changes, and seek guidance that we may 
contribute our part in line with the Spirit. It 
is seldom given us to know the times and sea- 
sons. Ordinarily it is better that we should not 
know. There is every reason why we should 
live more and more in the realm of causes, ex- 

Positive Values 343 

iii h i I——— ! 

tending our thought to include the activities of 
the spiritual world. We do not see all the ele- 
ments involved. We are not told all that we 
cannot see. We are left to develop from the 
point thus far attained, with every reason for 
making the best use of such wisdom as may be 
given us. Essential events belong together in 
the divine purpose, that is the chief considera- 
tion. That purpose steadily goes forth to its 
realization. We may aid by transferring our 
allegiance from self to that purpose, from out- 
ward conditions to the Life which operates 
through them. 

Our spirits sometimes act quickly and discern 
ends far in advance of realization. Intellectually 
speaking we move far more slowly, analyzing, 
raising objections, assimilating ideas against 
which we rebelled at first, and finally arriving at 
convictions. Our bodies move more moderately 
still, for matter is often unyielding. To under- 
stand all the conditions of life, we need to take 
account of these three differing rates of speed. 
In spirit we seem to achieve the goal at once. 
We never expect to fail again. We expect to 
be strong in faith, at peace within, prompt and 
ardent in service without. Time scarcely exists 
for us. But we reckon ill if we leave the con- 
ventionalizing intellect out of account, if we for- 
get self-love, habit, and our dependence on the 

344 The Open Vision 

body. Our earth-life is given us for the working 
out of this complex problem. There is wisdom 
for each level of experience, each stage of the 

So too the world moves at varying rates of 
speed, with groups on groups of people banded 
according to their affinities. If we could look 
forth over the world "under the guise of eternity," 
as Spinoza would say, we should see people mov- 
ing and being moved in groups. Our point of 
view would be that of motives or prevailing loves 
in the age-long processes leading to ends. Both 
time and space would drop out of consideration 
as we now know them. Instead, there would be 
outward appearances corresponding to real in- 
ward conditions; we should see "things as they 
are," see them "whole" in clear light. Elemen- 
tary indeed would seem this mundane lif e in com- 
parison. Yet this life would appear as the nat- 
ural training ground of the soul. It would seem 
less and less a mere conflict between forces, more 
and more intimately a field of expression for the 
eternal verities of the Spirit. For the darknesses 
would steadily disappear in the presence of the 
true Light. The errors would be overcome by 
the universalizing Truth. We would place less 
emphasis on the waywardnesses of men, more on 
the guidances which are ever at hand to disclose 
the Way. History too would seem in a measure 

Positive Values 345 

less important, in the quickening vision of the all- 
encompassing Life. 

If any one prefers to regard all the thoughts 
and impressions that come to us as arising solely 
within our minds, as results of contact with the 
natural world through the physical senses, and to 
deny relationship with another world or with the 
mind of God, nothing further need be said. 
Sooner or later all who think are likely to try this 
hypothesis for a time, and it is profitable to do 
so. But eventually we have to reckon with the 
fact that, whether we like it or not, the human 
mind discloses experiences of other types calling 
for adequate explanation. Thus the present 
widespread interest in psychical matters has come 
about through dissatisfaction with the teachings 
of the churches and the physical sciences. It 
places too great a burden upon the human spirit 
conceived as a closed and isolated entity, if we 
try to explain away all psychical experiences as 
sheer illusions or delusions due to disordered 
bodily states and subjective fancies. 

Again, others may still prefer to remain within 
the faithful ranks of those who recognize no re- 
ligious experiences save the ones generated in us 
through acceptance of the true doctrines and the 
authorized sacraments of the church to which they 
belong. Once more, there is no objection to be 
raised, if this be the soul's sincerest guidance. 

346 The Open Vision 

1 ■ « 

One sees why the authorities within the Church 
look with suspicion upon the whole psychical 
movement. To entertain even the hypothesis 
that people may receive direct guidance from 
God, may be regenerated by immediate influences 
from the spiritual world, or commune with "the 
dead" as if they were alive, is to admit a possi- 
bility that might jeopardize the whole institu- 
tion. Hence the Church is likely to remain our 
most conservative organization. Meanwhile, the 
dissatisfied are sure to look for light elsewhere. 

Or, one might adopt the leadings of the fore- 
going chapters in so far as they point to Quimby's 
theory, with its later variations, Mental Science 
and the New Thought. This would be to believe 
most heartily in intuition, telepathy, and the 
power of the spirit to convey direct healing in- 
fluences to other spirits in the flesh; while object- 
ing to the idea that such speech also includes the 
receiving of messages as spiritualists believe in 
them. It might involve an idea of the nearness 
of the spiritual world and it might not. But for 
the most part it would mean emphasis on the 
practical realization of the power of the Spirit in 
daily life for the sake of overcoming disease, 
poverty, and other adverse conditions* The chief 
objection to psychical experiences of a spiritist 
nature would be on the ground that people are 
unbalanced by them. But one might in turn ob- 

Positive Values 347 

' > ' ' ' I. < 

ject to the conventional New-Thought position 
on the ground that it is one's privilege to help 
people through the thickets of the psychical world 
into the light of the spiritual life. 

Or, again, one might hold that all these psychi- 
cal matters were settled a hundred and fifty 
years ago by the disclosures or revelations of Swe- 
denborg. That is to say, all psychical experi- 
ences are "dangerous," it is not given to us to re- 
ceive either help or wisdom from spirits ; and we 
should judge all such matters on the basis of the 
authoritative doctrines given in books like 
"Heaven and Hell." In such books, indeed, one 
finds the most complete view of the other world 
ever given to man. Naturally, Swedenborg is 
the one writer in all history with whom one would 
reckon seriously, if one were to press all explana- 
tions of the relationship of the two worlds to their 
rational limit. But there might be another way 
to make this estimate than merely to accept 
Swedenborg as authority without testing his 
teachings through appeal to experience and the 
best ideas set forth in recent communications. 
To take the Swedish seer in entire earnestness 
would be to look to inner experience to see how 
far his lead may be followed. For in our day 
the pursuit of truth has ceased to be a mere ques- 
tion of the comparison of doctrines. We have 
moved forward to an empirical age. A new light 
is shining. 

348 The Open Vision 

In accordance with this new light we may start 
in a very different way from that of either the 
former theology or spiritism in any of its guises. 
The old theology assumed the existence of a 
transcendent God far above the world, from 
whom there once came an authoritative revela- 
tion out of the air, as it were, that is, apart from 
all human conditions and limitations. Hence the 
churches organized in this God's name sur- 
rounded man by a closed system. All that could 
be known about the life after death was taught 
by the churches. Immediate access to divine 
sources of life and wisdom was denied. Heaven 
was remote indeed. Future punishment was to 
be dreaded, and fear was used as an instrument 
to restrain the faithful. 

Spiritism, on the hand, drew attention to al- 
leged projections from the spirit-world into this, 
and centered its interests upon mediumship. It 
then became a question whether thought-pro- 
jections or visions, messages from "controls" and 
the like, were real. The present-day interest in 
the ouija board is a survival of this view, that is, 
that the spiritual world projects itself into this 
one, and that we must discover whether the mes- 
sages and visions are real, are products of our 
subconsciousness, or are purely subjective ap- 

In this book we have been pleading for a radi- 

Positive Values 349 

cally different conception of the whole field, 
namely, that in so far as men have possessed the 
open vision they have actually seen realities, 
angels and spirits in the spiritual world itself; 
hence that the open vision, not spirit-projections, 
yields our standard. With this conception before 
us, we have sought to direct attention to the spir- 
itual powers which every man possesses now, 
powers which might be developed through use as 
Quimby, for example, developed them ; or as they 
grew into fulness of activity in the case of Swe- 

Granted this point of view, we may make ready 
to understand the life after death and the spirit- 
ual world by learning all we can about the hu- 
man spirit as it functions in this world. We 
learn, for example, that the spirit is the real basis 
of character, the ground of our prevailing love, 
the centre of our utmost thoughts and of the at- 
tractions or affinities of our truest friendships. 
We learn that it has a memory of its own which 
will survive, a "spiritual body" which really cor- 
responds with the spirit's attainments; and that 
death is a dropping off of externals, with the out- 
ward memories and associates of this life. Better 
still, we learn that by direct influx from the divine 
life we receive wisdom and love into the under- 
standing and the will according to our need, our 
responsiveness, and the use we make of this in- 
fluent guidance. 

350 The Open Vision 

Thus thinking about our life in the natural 
world in terms of spiritual law under clearly de- 
finable conditions, we may in constructive 
thought trace the pathway of the spirit into the 
other world. We may see the spirit, "clothed 
in its right mind," coming to itself in accordance 
with the prevailing love, and in a sphere of new 
influences and associates intimately related by 
spiritual affinity. Time will have ceased. Space 
will be no more save so far as its appearances cor- 
respond with the real states of the spirit. The 
natural world will be left behind save in memory 
and the inward ties which bind soul to soul in 
affinity, whether here or hereafter. The inward 
relationships will not be broken at all, and there 
will be no need of empirical proofs of "spirit re- 
turn" to prove the survival of spirits who have 
never been separated from us. With the laying 
aside of earthly relationships our friends in the 
spirit will therefore be nearer to us, not further 
away. We may firmly believe this, although 
never for a moment aware of a spiritual presence 
and never the recipient of a message. If in addi- 
tion it is given to some of us to become aware 
of the endeared presence and to receive a sentence 
which proves its reality ; it is for a divine purpose 
in accordance with true faith, and no one has 
good ground for denying the inward impression. 

Thus in possession of fundamental principles 

Positive Values 351 

by which to think out the relationship between 
the worlds, we are in a position to discern the 
realities amidst manifold illusions in matters 
psychical. We shall find that precisely as the 
mind plays us false in its misinterpretations of 
sense-phenomena and in our hasty generaliza- 
tions about lif e, so in the psychical region the mind 
readily generates much out of a little. Thus in 
some of the recent literature there may be a mini- 
mum of psychical reality and a great amount of 
mental enlargement. Narrowing matters down 
to the psychical minimum, we are led to ask, 
What is its significance? No answer from the 
psychical world will ever suffice to explain. Un- 
less you already know yourself far better than 
the typical communicating spirits know you, you 
cannot tell wherein they are right. And if you 
know yourself so well as this you have no need of 
merely psychical guidance; for you have learned 
the greatest of truths concerning the human 
spirit, namely, that it is taught from within by 
the divine wisdom, that man possesses no life or 
power, wisdom or love purely his own; but that 
he shares the divine goodness according to need. 
Truly to grasp this greatest of truths is to see 
the place and yet the limitations of personal or 
subjective experiences, hence to be prepared to 
interpret in all earnestness the experiences of the 
seers. For we then in a measure enjoy spiritual 

352 The Open Vision 

perception, we have "vision." Without vision 
they indeed "perish" who venture upon the 
psychical. But we are acquiring this vision. It 
may come to us whether we have read any special 
books or not, since real vision, true revelation is 
of the spirit: the eternal Word is hidden in the 

Whether we like it or not, therefore, and de- 
spite all the efforts of the churches to oppose Sir 
Oliver Lodge and the other pioneers, the point 
of view is before us now to be reckoned with, 
namely, that there is the most intimate relation- 
ship between the two worlds, and that all real 
causes are spiritual. The result is a new coopera- 
tive spirit pointing forward to the ideal which 
Swedenborg called the Grand Man. If we 
shall come to adopt that point of view we may 
find in it a new social gospel, or, rather, a return 
to the true Christianity of the Gospels. 


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